Bath head coach’s tactical guide
Areas where the game will be won and lost
1 The ruck
Whoever gets on top in this phase will be in the box seats. The breakdown battle is that important.
David Pocock has been getting all the headlines, and rightly so. With 14 turnovers, five more than anyone else, he deserves that level of praise.
He reads situations so well, makes good decisions, knows when to commit and when to hold back, just like Richie McCaw in fact. Of course, both can only operate if they have capable men around them.
How do you neutralise Pocock? You can try running straight at him to tie him in but this might limit your own attacking options. One thing is for sure: Pocock and McCaw will have a big say on the outcome.
2 Kicking game
The aerial contest has been a feature of this World Cup and New Zealand have been right to the fore. Full-back Ben Smith (right) has been dominant at the rear and, in attack, Dan Carter looks to be back to his best with the accuracy of his outof-hand kicking.
Wallaby full-back Israel Folau, usually such a presence, has not been at his best.
New Zealand used a lot of grubber kicks in the semifinal, a good tactic against the Springbok defence where there was space in behind the wings who had pushed up.
3 The attack
Both teams have had success in scoring tries, the All Blacks leading the way with 36 in their five games, but they had an easier group than Australia, who have managed 26.
The All Blacks have the skills, from full-back to loosehead prop, to catch and pass, the essentials of any attack. The halfbacks, Aaron Smith and Dan Carter, have an edge, although Wallaby fly-half, Bernard Foley, has surprised me in this tournament as an attacking organiser.
One key difference is that the Wallabies have, at times, looked vulnerable. Argentina made 13 line breaks against them and Australia missed 30 tackles. Any repeat, and New Zealand will be home and dry.