Captain Richie McCaw of New Zealand lifts the World Cup aloft
New Zealand made sporting history at Twickenham as they became the first team to be crowned Rugby World Cup winners for a second successive time.
Tries in each half by wing Nehe Milner-Skudder and centre Ma'a Nonu, followed by a late Beauden Barrett breakaway score, plus 19 points from All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter – including an important late drop-goal – in his 112th and final Test before joining French club Racing 92, saw New Zealand home 34-17.
It extended their record World Cup winning run to 14 Tests, and means the Webb Ellis Cup will remain New Zealand's property as they claimed a third world crown since the competition began 28 years ago.
But they were briefly given a second-half scare as Australia threatened a remarkable fightback from 18 points adrift after 42 minutes as number eight David Pocock and centre Tevita Kuridrani scored tries, with fly-half Bernard Foley converting both touchdowns that followed an earlier penalty.
It proved to be a pulsating final, brilliantly refereed by Welshman Nigel Owens, but New Zealand had enough in the tank to guarantee a winning farewell to Test rugby for the likes of Carter, Nonu, Conrad Smith and probably 148 times-capped Captain Marvel Richie McCaw.
The tournament's best two teams played out a thrilling spectacle, with Australia often giving as good as they got, but New Zealand ultimately possessed a mastery of the key moments as they dug deep into rich resources of experience to see them home.
New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen toasted his side's triumph as the confirmed themselves to be the best side in the world
"I'm very proud of the boys. To be fair tot he Australians, I thought they played their heart out too so a big shout out to them," said Hansen.
"It's a great way to finish. You couldn't script it any better. We'll celebrate at some stage I'm sure."
Australia head coach Michae Cheika offered up these views as he reflected on his side's failure to dilute their neighbours:
"We fought back bravely, but they're the World Champions and they deserve to be," he stated.
"I always beleived, even at the end – but it wasn't to be that way. I'm really proud of my lads and I really want to thank the Australian public, both here and in Australia, for getting behind rugby.
"New Zealand won fair and square and they've been the form team since the last World Cup. We wanted to challenge them tonight, and I think we did, but we just came up short."