Rugby League World Cup final: New Zealand v Australia

Live text commentary as Australia beat New Zealand to win the World Cup final at Old Trafford.

30 November 2013 Last updated at 13:30 GMT

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As it happened

  1. 1700: 
    New Zealand 2-34 Australia

    And it seems rather fitting to leave the final word with victorious Australia skipper Cameron Smith. The Kangaroos were overwhelming favourites to win their 10th World Cup and did so in imperious fashion. Frankly, they steamrolled past everything in sight, not least defending champions New Zealand in a sensational display in the final.

    Australia win Rugby League World Cup final

    But the tournament will not just be remembered for the Australian dominance. It will be remembered for fantastic rugby, huge crowds and - above all - great spirit from everyone who took part. Hope you have enjoyed the tournament. Until next time...

  2. 1655: 
    New Zealand 2-34 Australia

    More from Australia skipper Cameron Smith: "We learned from defeat by New Zealand in the 2008 final. Five years is a long time to get another opportunity, but a little bit of that disappointment has been taken away by this win."

  3. 1653: 
    New Zealand 2-34 Australia

    Australia skipper Cameron Smith: "It is very satisfying to finally lift the trophy. It is one of the best team performances I have ever been part of. To hold the Kiwi side to two points is a fantastic effort, especially with so much expectation on us to be successful in this tournament."

  4. 1649: 
    New Zealand 2-34 Australia

    Tina Turner's 'Simply the Best' is booming out of Old Trafford's PA system (of course it is) as Australia parade the trophy on their lap of honour.

  5. 1645: 
    New Zealand 2-34 Australia
    New Zealand v Australia

    Wow. That was pretty special from the Aussies as they regained their World Cup crown from those cheeky New Zealand scamps who dared to win the 2008 tournament.

    If you missed any of the action - or want to relive it - then we have treat and a half for you. Oh yes, here's our Facebook photo gallery of a simply sensational afternoon in Manchester.

  6.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Brendan Blood: Awesome, ruthless, devastating, powerful, strong, relentless, professional - kinda sums up that performance!

  7. 1638: 
    New Zealand 2-34 Australia

    But it is not their night - that belongs to Australia. The Kangaroos have won the tournament for a record 10th time and this current crop gather around the trophy ready to celebrate. Skipper Cameron Smith is the last up before he thrusts the silverware high into the air. Fireworks - to the sound of the Katy Perry hit of the same name - shoot out into the night sky as Smith and his team-mates drench each other in champagne. Very expensive champagne no doubt.

  8. 1636: 
    FULL-TIME- New Zealand 2-34 Australia

    Williams and his team-mates look disconsolate as they trudge up to the hastily-erected podium in the middle of the pitch to receive their medals. They receive a hearty round of applause from their opponents and the 75,000 crowd.

  9.  
    FULL-TIME- SAD SONNY BILL

    If there is one man who has hogged the headlines over the past month then it is New Zealand's powerhouse forward Sonny Bill Williams. But not today.

    Williams, who looks close to tears as he sits cross-legged on the Old Trafford turf, is a man whose name transcends sports. Not only is he the greatest player in the current rugby league world, but he has also excelled for his nation in the 15-man code. He is also the heavyweight boxing champion of New Zealand.

    Today he was bidding to become the first man to win the World Cup in both codes. It wasn't to be.

  10.  
    FULL-TIME
    New Zealand

    New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney on BBC One: "I thought Australia's performance was outstanding. They were ruthless. For us to have a chance today we needed a lot of things to go our way and they didn't. We just couldn't match them today - they did everything right. We are disappointed with today but we are a young side and there is some talent coming through so we need to learn from this experience."

  11.   
    Jonathan Davies, Former GB international and BBC Sport expert

    "Australia did the simple things and I thought their kicking game was immense. They got away from their line easily and when the chances came, they took them. They were fantastic and I haven't seen such a one-sided display for a long, long time. Thoroughly deserved for Australia."

  12.  
    FULL-TIME

    Australia's Jonathan Thurston on BBC One: "It's a dream come true. It's been a long six weeks and to win a World Cup with your best mates, it doesn't get any better. We've been building towards it, to be here on the last weekend, improve each week, and our defence was rock solid. That's what we've built our game on and that what you saw today."

  13.  
    FULL-TIME

    Australia coach Tim Sheens on BBC One: "I am extremely proud. We came over and performed really well. Our defence was great and our attitude was terrific. I hope the 13-man code is pushed to the fore in this country by this game. We didn't start the game thinking that we couldn't concede a try but as the game went on we did and the guys dug in. It is a great privilege for me to coach this team. We came to this tournament to win but you count nothing until the siren goes but we are relieved."

  14.  
    FULL-TIME- New Zealand 2-34 Australia

    Players are bringing babies on to the Old Trafford pitch, which appears to have been turned into a creche. But that means only one thing - it is celebration time for the Aussies.

  15.   
    Paul Fletcher, BBC Sport at Old Trafford

    "Greg Bird belts the ball into the crowd in delight, all his team-mates hug each other in delight, while the beaten Kiwis slowly slump to the Old Trafford turf. Australia were awesome on Saturday, it was a masterclass in execution. The last try they conceded came in the opening game of tournament against England."

  16.  
    CHAMPAGNE MOMENT- AUSTRALIA ARE THE WORLD CUP WINNERS
    Australia
  17. 80 mins: 
    FULL-TIME- New Zealand 2-34 Australia

    But Sonny Bill Williams spills the ball on the second tackle and the Aussies are not in any rush to set up the scrum. It's all over!

  18. 79 mins: 
    New Zealand 2-34 Australia

    Is there time for the Kiwis to grab a consolation and finally break the Australian line. Kangaroos winger Brett Morris pats a kick into touch as the Kiwis earn another set of six...

  19.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Patrick Deneny: Australia run the full length of the pitch to score again. That try pretty much sums up this final - Australian dominance.

    Nick Borkett: Probably the most flawless rugby league performance I've ever seen from the Australians today.

  20.   
    Jon Wilkin, England, St Helens and BBC Sport expert

    "The Australian spine has controlled the ball and given direction to the team, and I've never seen an international team defend with such desperation. A truly impressive display from a world champion team."

  21. 75 mins: 
    New Zealand 2-34 Australia
    Johnathan Thurston

    Thurston has run the show for the Aussies and has a perfect record of seven kicks from seven attempts. That is enough for the North Queensland stand-off to be awarded the man of the match prize. Any arguments with that?

  22. 72 mins: 
    CONVERTED TRY- New Zealand 2-34 Australia (Brett Morris)

    And that, ladies and gentleman, is the icing on the cake for Australia. New Zealand attack, only for Sonny Bill Williams' square pass to be intercepted by Aussie centre Jarryd Hayne. Hayne sprints a good 50 metres before somehow offloading to Brett Morris, who is supporting to the left and slides in for his second try. Johnathan Thurston won't miss from in front of the posts, will he? Nope.

  23. 70 mins: 
    New Zealand 2-28 Australia

    Australia centre Jarryd Hayne breaks through the flimsy Kiwi line as his side sniff out a fifth try. Hayne offloads to the supporting Johnathan Thurston with the line beckoning, but he is denied by Kieran Foran who emerges from nowhere to stop him. Cracking effort.

  24. 68 mins: 
    New Zealand 2-28 Australia

    Some bloke has raced on to the Old Trafford pitch - to the amusement of the 75,000 crowd. He is brave (or mad) to be running on to a field being used by these 26 brutes. Stewards chase him, grab him, escort him down the tunnel and normal service resumes - with an Australia attack.

  25. 65 mins: 
    New Zealand 2-28 Australia

    The Kiwis huff and puff but are unable to blow down the Australia defence. Kevin Locke and Sonny Bill Williams have a bash to no avail before an off-balance Shaun Johnson, who is quickly closed down every time he gets the ball in hand, miscues his kick.

  26. 63 mins: 
    New Zealand 2-28 Australia

    New Zealand stand-off Shaun Johnson sends a high ball up into the darkening Manchester sky and Australia full-back Billy Slater, rather harshly in my opinion, is adjudged to knock on under pressure from Kevin Locke. Another set of six for the Kiwis....

  27.   
    Brian Noble, Former Great Britain coach and BBC Sport expert

    "I thought it would be the last 20 minutes where New Zealand would struggle but Australia have given a masterclass in game management over the first 60 minutes and the Kiwis could find the last 20 minutes of this match very tough indeed."

  28.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Canice Dowling: Aussies in a different league. Thurston bending over conversions. Come on NZ.

    James Denton: New Zealand still sore after been took to the limit last week, Australia have had an easy few weeks.

    Claudia Walker: I was anticipating a much closer match. Disappointing.

  29. 59 mins: 
    New Zealand 2-28 Australia

    New Zealand look like they are out on their feet now. Aussie stand-off Johnathan Thurston spots another gap in the Kiwi defence before he is hauled back by a flailing arm of a defender.

  30.  

    BBC Sport's touchline reporter Tanya Arnold: "The Australian medical team are unhappy about how Brett Morris crashed into the advertising hoarding after scoring his try. Earlier in the tournament, Luke Lewis was ruled out of the rest of the competition when he smashed into an advertising hoarding at St Helens and suffered a dislocated shoulder. The Kangaroos had raised fears about the short in-goal area during Friday's captain's run at Old Trafford."

  31. 56 mins: 
    OUCH!- New Zealand 2-28 Australia

    Australia raised concerns about the depth of the in-goal area in the build-up to the final - and they aren't happy after Brett Morris's injury. And then we have another worrying moment as Kiwi winger Manu Vatuvei smashes into the boards behind the posts. Thankfully this guy is built of granite and shrugs off any concerns.

  32.   
    Jon Wilkin, England, St Helens and BBC Sport expert

    "Australia are like a boa constrictor suffocating their opposition every time they try to get into the game. We are seeing it here and that is why the Kangaroos are the best team in the world."

  33. 53 mins: 
    CONVERTED TRY- New Zealand 2-28 Australia
    Brett Morris

    Brett Morris gingerly returns to his feet - and is greeted by the sight of 'TRY' on the scoreboard. I'm sure that makes the Australia winger feel much better. As will Johnathan Thurston's superb conversion. Thurston is showboating now as he curls his kick from the outside of the posts inside the right upright.

  34. 52 mins: 
    TRY REVIEW- New Zealand 2-22 Australia

    And within seconds Australia race up to the other end - and may have another try. But it could come at a price as Brett Morris crashes into the advertising hoardings at the side of the pitch after touching down. Ouch.

  35. 51 mins: 
    New Zealand 2-22 Australia

    There might be a missing person appeal in the Manchester area soon - because Sonny Bill Williams has barely been seen at Old Trafford. Then, right on cue, he takes the ball at first receiver to win a penalty. New Zealand take advantage to put some pressure on the Australia line, but Shaun Marshall's kick is not good enough and the ball is handed over.

  36. 48 mins: 
    New Zealand 2-22 Australia

    Australia are targeting the Kiwi half-backs as Billy Slater almost scampers through again on the right. Slater was an injury doubt before the game. Can anybody tell?

  37. 45 mins: 
    New Zealand 2-22 Australia

    The Kiwis could get buried here I feel as Australia pump another kick deep into their territory. The returning Kiwi set ends with Shaun Marshall's kick barely making a dent in the Kangaroos half.

  38.   
    Brian Noble, Former Great Britain coach and BBC Sport expert

    "Someone mentioned at half-time that the Kiwis looked overawed and that is true. That is a great example of the Smith and Thurston axis and with a New Zealand player down, the Australians were able to capitalise. I think last week's game was brutal and fabulous but may have taken it out of the Kiwis."

  39. 41 mins: 
    CONVERTED TRY- New Zealand 2-22 Australia (Billy Slater)

    Oh dear. I think that is the sound of New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney's team-talk being ripped up that I can hear. Clinical stuff from the Aussies as Johnathan Thurston storms down the left, passes outside to Darius Boyd who in turn slips back inside to Billy Slater. That was just 48 seconds after New Zealand's restart by the way. Wow.

    Thurston curls in a sublime conversion which arcs around the left-hand post like a boomerang.

  40.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Waѕiyullah Budye: Atmosphere at Old Trafford is absolutely Electrifying! Wallabies, go for it, bring trophy home and make history.

    Mister P: Australia surely won't let this slip, still smarting after the last world cup to let New Zealand embarrass them again.

  41. 41 mins: 
    KICK-OFF- New Zealand 2-16 Australia

    The players have raced back out. Referee Richard Silverwood gives his whistle a good toot. And New Zealand's Shaun Johnson smacks the ball towards the Australia try-line. That means we are underway.

  42.  
    STOLEN AND FOUND
    Rugby League World Cup

    This little beauty will be lifted by either Australia's Cameron Smith or Kiwi counterpart Simon Mannering shortly. But there is an interesting tale behind this gleaming gem - it was stolen during the 1970 tournament.

    Reigning champions Australia put the trophy on public display in Bradford's Midland Hotel and it was taken six days before the final. It remained unseen for the next 20 years until, in 1990, father-of-four Stephen Uttley found the trophy among rubbish dumped in a ditch near Bradford and Bingley RLFC. The trophy was reissued for the 2000 tournament and will be again presented to the 2013 winners.

  43.  
    HALF-TIME- New Zealand 2-16 Australia

    But wait! We have discovered another stat which provides hope for the Kiwis. The last rugby league game at Old Trafford was last month's Super League Grand Final when Wigan came from 16-2 down to beat Warrington. The Warriors did claw back four more points than the Kiwis before half-time however....

  44.   
    Paul Fletcher, BBC Sport at Old Trafford

    "All over? If the atmosphere inside Old Trafford is any gauge then you would have to say yes. The Kangaroos are more than two scores ahead and it has all gone a little flat here. The Kiwis need to regroup at the break and produce something special after the restart."

  45.  

    New Zealand's Kieran Foran on BBC One: "They are winning the ground and we need to slow them down. They are getting away from quick play-the-balls and we need to keep in there."

  46.  

    Australia captain Cameron Smith on BBC One: "We knew we had to have a simple game plan and we have built our game on our defence but we know it will take a big effort in the second half."

  47. 40 mins: 
    HALF-TIME- New Zealand 2-16 Australia
    New Zealand v Australia

    High fives all around from the Australians as they sprint down the Old Trafford tunnel delighted with their work. The Kiwis need at least three second-half scores to retain their trophy after Australia tries through Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk.

  48. 39 mins: 
    New Zealand 2-16 Australia

    New Zealand finally enjoy some decent field position as Sonny Bill Williams (who we have hardly mentioned) instigates a rare Kiwi foray. Winger Manu Vatuvei finds a yard of space before a host of Australia defenders swarm over to the touchline and dump him into touch.

  49. 35 mins: 
    PENALTY- New Zealand 2-16 Australia

    According to my statman there has not been a clean break against Australia since their opening game against England. Wow. Not bad these boys.

    The Kangaroos win another penalty as Kiwi replacement Ben Matu clumsily clatters into Cooper Cronk. Johnathan Thurston goes for goal and casually clips over another two points.

  50.   
    Eorl Crabtree, England prop and BBC Sport expert

    "I've been disappointed with the New Zealand tackling around the ruck area and how they have missed tackles - it has definitely given opportunities to Australia."

  51. 31 mins: 
    CONVERTED TRY- New Zealand 2-14 Australia (Cooper Cronk)

    Nope he isn't. Cooper Cronk wins the footrace, after an inventive kick by Jarryd Hayne, to touch down Australia's second try. Johnathan Thurston, who evades a Sonny Bill Williams tackle in the build up to the try, smashes over the conversion.

  52. 30 mins: 
    TRY REVIEW- New Zealand 2-8 Australia

    And the Aussies, like a wounded animal, roar straight back up the other end as Cooper Cronk touches down. But is he to be denied again?

  53. 29 mins: 
    New Zealand 2-8 Australia

    New Zealand pound the Aussie line and almost get their reward. Winger Manu Vatuvei jumps above the Australia defence to pluck a high ball out of the cold Manchester air, but is shoved away from the try-line by a host of Kangaroo defenders.

  54.   
    Jamie Jones-Buchanan, England, Leeds Rhinos and 5 live expert

    "I'd go as far as to say that's the best try-saving tackle I've ever seen, and it could go on to be the defining factor in this game."

  55.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Jack Bartlett: Fittingly there's a football score in the #rlwc final at Old Trafford.

    Don't think Arsenal fans will find that one funny Jack....

  56. 26 mins: 
    NO TRY- New Zealand 2-8 Australia

    Cooper Cronk's high kick is not gathered by the Kiwis, who knock on. Fine. Billy Slater and Jarryd Hayne are onside. Fine. But Cronk who collects a brilliant reverse kick by Hayne does not ground because of Issac Luke's sensational last-ditch tackle. Not fine. No try.

  57. 25 mins: 
    TRY REVIEW- New Zealand 2-8 Australia

    Another Australia try - or is it? The Kangaroos think they have scored - but referee Richard Silverwood goes to the video referee.

  58. 24 mins: 
    New Zealand 2-8 Australia

    New Zealand need a bit of inspiration here - the Aussies are cranking up the pressure. The Kiwis are pinned back in their own half at the moment and they are struggling to get any field position.

  59.   
    Paul Fletcher, BBC Sport at Old Trafford

    "The crowd are roaring on the Kiwis at every opportunity - one big tackle by Dean Whare drawing a huge cheer. But the Aussies are building pressure, executing their plays superbly and have a determined look about them. Their bench is down in front of me and every player looks mean and in the zone."

  60.   
    Jonathan Davies, Former Wales international and BBC Sport expert

    "That's why Billy Slater is so important to Australia's hopes. The timing of the run and jump for someone who isn't a giant is superb and it was a fantastic try."

  61. 19 mins: 
    CONVERTED TRY- New Zealand 2-8 Australia (Billy Slater)

    And Australia take full advantage of the dropout. Johnathan Thurston, who earned the drop out, launches a high kick which is superbly gathered by a leaping Billy Slater, who touches down. Thurston adds the extras as Australia take control with a quarter of the World Cup final gone.

  62. 18 mins: 
    New Zealand 2-2 Australia

    Dropout from behind the sticks for New Zealand. Australia hooker Cameron Smith is a genius with the boot and he measures a dink to perfection as Kiwi full-back Kevin Locke is hounded down by Johnathan Thurston inside his own try-line.

  63.  
    A celeb has been spotted

    Former Formula One driver Mark Webber on BBC One: "It's been a tense start but what a great stadium and great to be here to see the sport I grew up watching. It has been an awesome tournament so far."

  64. 16 mins: 
    PENALTY- New Zealand 2-2 Australia (Shaun Johnson)

    Shaun Johnson has not always been the most clinical with the boot - apart from the last-gasp conversion against England of course. But he makes no mistake from just to the left of the Aussie posts - after a high hit by Kangaroos hooker Cameron Smith - to restore parity.

  65. 14 mins: 
    New Zealand 0-2 Australia
    New Zealand v Australia

    The Kiwis show those quick hands which have been a feature of the tournament as they break down the left. Centre Dean Whare comes back inside before the Kangaroos are penalised in front of their own posts - and New Zealand opt to kick....

  66. 12 mins: 
    New Zealand 0-2 Australia

    It doesn't look great for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck according to BBC One's touchline reporter Tanya Arnold. She reckons that he won't be returning as the Kiwis force the handover 30 metres from their own line.

  67.   
    Paul Fletcher, BBC Sport at Old Trafford

    "Bit of a lull around Old Trafford as both sides try to come to terms with early injuries. New Zealand winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, a sensation with eight tries in the tournament, looked distraught as he limped off. The winger was a big doubt for this game with an injury picked up last week. For the Aussies, Jarryd Hayne is fit to continue after a blow to the head. Things going the way of the green and gold right now."

  68. 9 mins: 
    New Zealand 0-2 Australia

    So that's the end of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's afternoon - for the time being at least - but Jarryd Hayne makes a recovery as the game restarts. Johnathan Thurston's high kick is almost gathered by Greg Inglis as the Kangaroos threaten again, before Kiwi full-back Kevin Locke recovers - just.

  69.   
    Brian Noble, Former Great Britain coach and BBC Sport expert

    "We spoke earlier about the intensity of the game but let's remember that most of the Kangaroos are used to State of Origin football and they are games that are intense from the first minute to the last."

  70. 7 mins: 
    New Zealand 0-2 Australia

    Potential big blow for New Zealand here. Winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who was struggling with a leg injury, looks to be in a world of trouble. As does Australia centre Jarryd Hayne, who gets thumped by Kiwis skipper Simon Mannering in their next set. Injury problems for both sides in the early stages.

  71. 5 mins: 
    PENALTY- New Zealand 0-2 Australia (Johnathan Thurston)

    Another high kick from Australia scrum-half Cooper Cronk causes havoc in the Kiwi defence, prompting a blatant obstruction on Billy Slater by Kiwi stand-off Kieran Foran. The Kangaroos opt to kick from a central position and Johnathan Thurston makes no mistake with his trusty boot.

  72.   
    Robbie Hunter-Paul, Former New Zealand international and BBC Sport expert

    "Hopefully New Zealand will build on the momentum of last week and they can maintain the intensity they had last week in the whole game. It is important for the Kiwi halves to dominate the game. It needs Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran to play well together. If New Zealand can stay with Australia, they have the strike-weapon players who can get over the line and the big guys up front."

  73. 3 mins: 
    New Zealand 0-0 Australia

    And a nervous start from the Kiwis as Jesse Bromwich makes an early handling error to give the Aussies a set of six from inside their 20-metre line. Cooper Cronk launches a high bomb which is knocked on by his centre Jarryd Hayne. Handover.

  74.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Patrick Deneny: I'm blaming the Rugby League World Cup Final for my lack of productivity today. Tuned in just in time for the Haka.

    Andrew Priestley: Australia vs New Zealand. The World Cup Final that all us neutrals wanted to see. Buckle up your seat-belts folks!

    Pete Stollery: Eat Sleep League Repeat

  75. 1 mins: 
    KICK-OFF

    The talking is over. The action starts. Australia kick off deep into the Kiwi half.

  76. 1432: 

    There is one more pre-match custom left - the New Zealand Haka. Is there a better sight in international sport than a gurning Maori screaming at the opposition? No I didn't think so.

  77. 1430: 

    Multi-million record-selling opera singer Russell Watson - a well-known Manchester United fan - has the honour of belting out the national anthems on the Old Trafford pitch. Watson sings the New Zealand anthem in Maori - despite only being told early this week that he had got the gig. Impressive stuff.

  78. 1428:  
    Paul Fletcher, BBC Sport at Old Trafford

    "Old Trafford, a complete sell-out, is packed to the rafters. Fans in the corner of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand/East Stand can brace themselves for some sun in the eyes action. Far more Kangaroos' green and gold on display than the black of the Kiwis but I suspect most of the neutrals in the ground will get behind New Zealand - the reigning champions but the undoubted underdogs this afternoon. They got a decent roar as they came out to warm up. The Aussies, in contrast, were booed."

  79. 1427: 

    Australia have dominated the tournament since its inception in 1954, winning nine of the 13 tournaments, and the Kangaroos are the favourites to win an 10th title today.

    But they are not the current holders. Oh no - that honour goes to New Zealand. The Kiwis stunned their Antipodean rivals five years ago with a 34-20 triumph in Brisbane to lift the trophy for the first time. Can lightning strike twice? We are about to find out. The two teams are strolling out of the Old Trafford tunnel with pyrotechnics blasting all around them....

  80. 1426: 
    KEY BATTLES

    SHAUN JOHNSON v COOPER CRONK

    Shaun Johnson v Cooper Cronk

    The battle between the two men who pull the strings for their teams will go a long way to determining the outcome of the final. Cronk is a tough Australia half-back who possesses arguably the best kicking game in rugby league and combines superbly with his Melbourne team-mates Cameron Smith and Billy Slater. Johnson, who has already gone a long way towards filling the boots of Benji Marshall, had his worst game of the tournament in New Zealand's win against England but still managed to come up with the match-winning try.

  81. 1424: 
    KEY BATTLES

    ISSAC LUKE v CAMERON SMITH

    Issac Luke v Cameron Smith

    Two more players with contrasting styles but of equal importance to their team's bid for glory. Australia's Smith is the graceful ball-distributing hooker with a shrewd rugby brain who varies his game wonderfully well to keep the opposition guessing. Luke, on the other hand, is hugely predictable but stopping his lightning breaks from dummy half is far from straight forward. Deceptively strong, he has been the form hooker of the tournament.

  82. 1423: 
    KEY BATTLES

    SONNY BILL WILLIAMS v GREG BIRD

    Sonny Bill Williams v Greg Bird

    A contrast in styles between two of the game's leading back-row forwards. The tough-tackling, no-nonsense Bird will make it his mission to keep a tight rein on the ball-handling skills of former All Black star Williams, who was this week crowned international player of the year. Williams is the full package, able to combine devastating forceful running with freakish offloads that make him the Kiwis' major attacking weapon.

  83. 1422: 
    KEY BATTLES

    We are just under 10 minutes away from the Rugby League World Cup final. Oooh I feel like a kid counting down to Christmas. Let's use that time wisely and look at the three key battles between the two sides....

  84. 1421: 

    New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney on BBC One: "We are here in the World Cup final but we probably feel we haven't played our best at the tournament and I'm sure it will be today. It will take our best performance to get something today but by being here we have given ourselves a chance."

  85. 1420: 
    NEW ZEALAND TEAM NEWS

    New Zealand: Locke; Tuivasa-Sheck, Whare, Goodwin, Vatuvei; Foran, Johnson; Waerea-Hargreaves, Luke, Bromwich, Mannering (capt), Williams, Taylor.

    Replacements: Nu'uausala, Kasiano, Matulino, Glenn.

  86. 1419: 

    Clearly most of our focus is going to be on today's showpiece, but let's not forget what a resounding success this World Cup has been.

    With an ever-changing format, long gaps between tournaments and on-field mismatches, the event has not been easy for supporters, new and old, to follow in the past.

    But this tournament has captured the attention of many with some wonderful rugby, a few shocks from the likes of Scotland and the USA, plus plenty of fun - not least from the dancing Samoans. Now it finishes in front of over 75,000 fans at Old Trafford - the biggest crowd ever to watch a game of international rugby league.

    So what has your favourite moment of the tournament been? And which one player has stood out the most? Tweet us on #bbcrl, text 81111 or post on our Facebook page.

  87. 1417: 
    BBC SPORT ON INSTAGRAM
    Fans

    These two chaps were clearly going to Old Trafford hoping to see an England team lining up against the Kiwis. It wasn't to be, but at least their fancy dress hasn't gone to waste. Check out more photos from the game on BBC Sport's Instagram page.

  88. 1414: 

    Australia coach Tim Sheens on BBC One: "There is expectation but that is for the fans and media. It is about playing well through the game and not worrying about the end result. You can't say the fact that we lost the last final is not there but it was five years ago - if you worry about it, you don't need it in your preparation. The guys have focussed on this year and this game. Billy Slater wouldn't be playing if he wasn't fit. He talks the team through everything and is the sort of guy who could coach the team."

  89. 1411: 
    AUSTRALIA TEAM

    Australia: Slater; Morris, Inglis, Hayne, Boyd; Thurston, Cronk; Scott, Smith (capt), Tamou, Bird, Thaiday, Gallen.

    Replacements: Cherry-Evans, Papalii, Fifita, Parker.

  90. 1409: 
    AUSTRALIA TEAM NEWS

    Inspirational full-back Billy Slater starts for Australia. The Melbourne man, 30, missed the semi-final win over Fiji after aggravating a knee injury in the quarter-final against the USA. But he was able to train on Wednesday and is named in Tim Sheens' line-up.

  91. 1406: 
    NEW ZEALAND'S ROUTE TO THE FINAL
    New Zealand

    Group B games

    27 October: New Zealand 42-24 Samoa

    1 November: New Zealand 48-0 France

    8 November: New Zealand 56-10 Papua New Guinea

    Quarter-final

    15 November: New Zealand 40-4 Scotland

    Semi-final

    23 November: New Zealand 20-18 England

  92. 1403: 
    NEW ZEALAND'S ROUTE TO THE FINAL

    Meanwhile, New Zealand have also enjoyed a comfortable passage to the final - apart from the semi-final against England. The Kiwis racked up plenty of points and plenty of tries on their way to the last-four clash. They needed a last-gasp conversion to beat Steve McNamara's men in a pulsating game at Wembley - but have they got enough left in the tank to beat the Aussies?

  93. 1359: 
    AUSTRALIA'S ROUTE TO THE FINAL

    Group A games

    26 October: Australia 28-20 England

    2 November: Australia 34-2 Fiji

    9 November: Australia 50-0 Ireland

    Quarter-final

    16 November: Australia 62-0 USA

    Semi-final

    23 November: Australia 64-0 Fiji

  94. 1356: 
    AUSTRALIA'S ROUTE TO THE FINAL
    Australia

    Australia, as expected, have cruised into the final after breezing through Group A with three straight wins, plus comfortable victories in the knockout stage against the USA and Fiji. But, some onlookers claim their lack of real competition - apart from a couple of spells in the opening win against England - could be their downfall against the Kiwis.

    "If we don't win this weekend, this tournament hasn't been a success," says loose forward Paul Gallen. "Apart from 20 minutes against England, I guess we've been pretty good. Obviously against England and Fiji we were challenged a little bit, the rest of the games I suppose we won pretty easily."

  95.  
    GET INVOLVED

    David Bazzy Basnett: Head says Australia , but heart says New Zealand.

  96.   
    Brian Noble, Former Great Britain coach and BBC Sport expert

    "My worry for the Kiwis is that they may be overcooked. How much did the England game take out of them? For the Kangaroos, have they had enough tough games to set them up for this match?"

  97. 1350: 
    BBC COVERAGE

    As you would expect for such an occasion, BBC Sport is covering the Old Trafford match from all angles so you lot won't miss a try, kick or tackle.

    Television coverage has started on BBC One, with presenter Mark Chapman and expert analysis from the dapper-looking trio of ex-Great Britain coach Brian Noble, former England skipper Jamie Peacock and ex-Kiwi half-back Robbie Hunter-Paul. There are some serious threads being rocked out by those boys - look out for Noble's red bow tie...

    From about 1400 GMT you can listen to all the build up on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and live commentary when the action kicks off at 1430. And don't forget that you UK users can now listen live on the BBC Sport app while reading all the latest match reports, news, analysis - and this text commentary of course.

  98.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Before we get right underneath the skin of this hugely-anticipated World Cup final, I need your help. Nothing makes the life of a live text commentator more enjoyable than the input of you - our wonderful readers. So why don't you pick up your mobile, fire up the laptop or switch on the tablet and get in touch? In fact I insist that you do.

    Which of these Southern Hemisphere titans are you backing to emerge victorious? Which one player do you think will have the greatest influence on this game and why?

    Tell us on Twitter by using #bbcrl, post on our Facebook page, or send a text to 81111.

  99. 1343:  
    Paul Fletcher, BBC Sport at Old Trafford

    "A beautiful, near cloudless day at Old Trafford for what has the makings of a classic final. Fans were milling around outside the stadium hours before kick-off, the souvenir sellers already in place before then. The half-and-half matchday scarves are very much in evidence. Yours for £10..."

  100. 1338: 

    Hello! So here we are after a month-long tournament packed with big hits, big tries and big men. Welcome to live text commentary of the Rugby League World Cup final between defending champions New Zealand and favourites Australia at Manchester's Old Trafford stadium.

    Over the next hour we will be building up to kick off and in around three hours' time we will know which of these great Southern Hemisphere rivals have been crowned world champions.

  101. 1334: 

    If that sounded ever so slightly reminiscent of 1990s television show Gladiators, then I make no apologies. Not only because that was a cult classic for anyone born over 25 years ago, but mainly because today's World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia promises to a brutal battle between 34 gladiators. Antipodean gladiators of course.

  102. 1330: 
    FINAL COUNTDOWN
    New Zealand v Australia

    Thirty-five days. 27 games. 14 nations. 20 host cities across four countries. But today the Rugby League World Cup boils down to just 80 minutes.

    New Zealand in the all-black corner. Australia in the green and gold corner. There can only be one winner. Are you ready?

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