TWICKENHAM (AFP) - Dan Carter bowed out as king of rugby on Saturday when he kicked the All Blacks to a historic 34-17 World Cup victory over Australia at Twickenham.
Carter kicked a decisive 19 points in his final match for New Zealand as they became the first team to retain the World Cup and the first to win three titles.
When the Wallabies had closed to within three points of the All Blacks in the second half, Carter struck with a monstrous drop goal and a 50 metre penalty to decide the game.
With three tries, two converted, and a further three Carter penalties the All Blacks put on a brilliant show, spoiled only by Ben Smith becoming the first player to be sin-binned in a final.
Richie McCaw, in what may have been his international swansong raised the Webb Ellis Cup for the second time in four years after 80 minutes of high-octane rugby.
"We played some damned good rugby there," said McCaw as celebrations started.
Carter, who has confirmed it was his 112th and final Test scored 19 points to stretch his world record to 1,598.
The Wallabies put up a stubborn resistance for much of the first half but the speed of the All Blacks and passes proved too much for them.
The Australians resistance broke just before half-time, when Conrad Smith, Aaron Smith and McCaw all combined to put Nehe Milner Skudder over in the corner.
Sonny Bill Williams, who replaced Conrad Smith at half-time, produced two classy off-loads with his first touches. The second put Ma'a Nonu on a 40 metre run to the line.
Before a capacity crowd of 80,125, it put the All Blacks ahead 21-3.
The Wallabies came back with two converted tries in the middle of the second half when the All Blacks were down to 14-men with Ben Smith in the sin-bin.
David Pocock crossed from a lineout drive and Tevita Kuridrani scored when Australia counter-attacked after Milner-Skudder missed touch with a clearing kick.
The two wings with places in the record books at stake, Julian Savea and Drew Mitchell were unable to cross the line.
Savea finishes the tournament with eight tries, equalling the record for a single World Cup set by Jonah Lomu (1999) and Bryan Habana (2007).
Mitchell signed off without adding to his 14 career World Cup tries, one behind the record also shared by Lomu and Habana.
Australia kicked off but were almost immediately forced back into their own half when Nonu stepped around Sekope Kepu to get the All Blacks up to the Wallaby line.
They threatened on the right side with Milner-Skudder then on the left with Savea before winning a penalty for Carter to put the first points on the board.
Although the All Blacks were applying the early pressure a series of errors allowed Australia into the game.
A kick for the corner went out on the full, a Carter clearing kick did not go out and when Australia kicked Ben Smith knocked on.
At the resulting scrum the All Blacks front row was penalised and Bernard Foley landed the equalising penalty.
New Zealand blew a chance to regain the lead when awarded a handy penalty which scrum-half Aaron Smith decided to run with rather than let Carter have a shot at goal.
Smith then found himself penalised when tackled near the posts.
Wallaby prop Kepu warned once for a late tackle on Carter gave away another penalty for a high tackle on the New Zealand fly-half.
This time Smith contained himself and allowed Carter to kick the points.
After Carter landed his third penalty the All Blacks produced the opening try of the game, just before half-time with Conrad Smith, Aaron Smith and McCaw all featuring in the move to put Milner-Skudder over for the All Blacks to turn 16-3 ahead.
Williams, who came on for Conrad Smith at the break, produced two sensational off-loads with his first two touches of the ball, to set up Nonu's try.
The Pocock and Kuridrani tries saw Australia close the gap to 21-17 before Carter, the man of the match,landed his drop goal and penalty.
Beauden Barrett then scored the shutout try with Carter landing the conversion.