Rugby World Cup Delivers The Final We Were All Hoping For

It seems almost perverse that in the history of the Rugby World Cup, there has never been a final contested by the two true national powerhouses of the game. Australia and New Zealand, despite – or perhaps because of – their close ancestral history and geographical location, are the bitterest of rivals on the pitch, and neutrals across the planet will be delighted that 2015 has finally given fans the showdown that we have been quietly praying for since 1987.

Neither side has had an easy route through to this stage, and despite being cast as early favourites for the title, New Zealand have had to quash the threat of Argentina in the groups stage, as well as crushing France in the quarter finals, before overcoming South Africa in a thrilling 20-18 victory in the semis. Australia meanwhile have arguably had an even tougher route to the final – overcoming Wales, England, Scotland and Argentina en route to this hotly-anticipated Twickenham showdown – but this weekend, none of the last six weeks’ achievements will count for anything.

Of course, the romantics out there would have loved to see the Pumas overcome Australia in the semi-final, such has been the speed of their development since joining the Tri-Nations to create The Rugby Championship in 2012. It is perhaps testament to the sink-or-swim nature of southern hemisphere rugby that Argentina have been transformed from perennial also-rans to genuine World Cup contenders in just a few years, and also why there was not one side from the Six Nations represented in the final four.

That Australia overcame them with such relative comfort – although the 29-15 score line did slightly flatter the Wallabies – is testament to the quality that runs throughout Michael Cheika’s side, and with their pack competing so aggressively at virtually every break-down as well as the attacking flair offered by the likes of Adam Ashley-Cooper and Drew Mitchell, the All Blacks will know they are in a battle next Saturday.

For those of you looking to have a flutter on the final, it really could go either way, such is the strength of both sides –and as such, I would be tempted to back Australia as underdogs. It is also worth noting that no side has ever retained the Webb Ellis Cup – a feat the All Blacks are hoping to achieve for the first time – but whatever happens, fans can be assured of a great game.

And if you don’t fancy placing a bet because it’s simply too tough to call, then you can always have a little gamble on a wide range of casino games including poker, roulette and blackjack at spinpalace while watching the match and make some money. After all, when the game’s too tense to watch and you’re hiding behind the sofa, you might as well do something constructive with your time!

New Zealand fans will probably not be hiding behind the sofa though; they will fear no one, such has been the comfort with which they have dispatched all challengers to date. They made light work of their group matches, before humiliating France in the last eight, and whilst it’s always a tough game against the Springboks, Steve Hansen’s men – and the formidable Richie McCaw, who has been cleared to play in the final – still found a way to edge them out.

If there is a doubt that could perhaps be levelled at the Kiwis, it is that they are perhaps uncooked; having enjoyed a far easier route to the final than their Australian counterparts, but the game rally is a tough one to call – something punters and neutrals alike will be delighted about.

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