The All Blacks are favourites but have been warned by the English media that they need to be wary of the Wallabies.

Almost to a man, the leading United Kingdom scribes have installed New Zealand as favourites to win Sunday morning's World Cup final at Twickenham.

But they by no means consider the decider to be fait accompli.

"Australia do not have a great modern record against the All Blacks but this starting lineup contained a combined 876 caps, making it the most experienced Wallaby XV for any World Cup fixture. New Zealand will be favourites to defend their title but Richie McCaw and co can take nothing for granted," wrote Robert Kitson in The Guardian.


"Australia will be pleased at the way they responded when a helter-skelter contest threatened to veer out of control and the All Blacks will not have forgotten their 27 19 defeat in Sydney in August, which cost them this year's Rugby Championship title. Steve Hansen's side, however, have the luxury of an extra day's recovery time before the first World Cup final to feature the two neighbours."

Kitson felt Australia's 29-15 triumph over Argentina was a flattering scoreline.

"If four tries to nil sounds like a drubbing on paper, it was rather closer in reality. The second half was a real test of antipodean nerve as the Pumas scrum finally exerted some concerted pressure but Australia had enough strength in depth on the bench to extend their unbeaten record at this tournament.

"The Wallabies have not made a final in 12 years and last won one in 1999, when the great John Eales was still captaining them. The current mob are growing in self-belief, though, and possess significant threats in the back row, midfield and wide out, all areas where the All Blacks are strong. With the exception of their quarter-final against Scotland - in which two of the Scots' three tries came from an intercept and a chargedown - they have defended outstandingly. England, Wales and Argentina managed only one try between them against Australia in 240 minutes; across the tournament, Michael Cheika's side have racked up 26 tries at an average of 4.33 per game."

Gavin Mairs, writing in the London Daily Telegraph, said the "hope of All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen that both sides would take chunks out of each other today came to pass as what had looked like being a comfortable victory for Australia went right to the wire as Los Pumas attempted to make up for a reckless opening with a heroic second-half display".

Writing in the Times of London, Owen Slot described Australia's advancement to the final as a "triumph for the planning of Michael Cheika, the Wallabies' head coach".

"This World Cup has been a masterclass from Matt Giteau, the man for whom Cheika changed the eligibility rules to get him back in his team. And in the 72nd minute, it was Drew Mitchell, Giteau's Toulon team-mate and the other beneficiary of Cheika's rule change, who danced through to finally settle the contest."

Chris Hewitt, in the Independent, lamented the absence of a European nation at the business end of the tournament, and predicted the All Blacks would be facing a tough side.


"God knows, the All Blacks ape the Pumas by making life easy for them from the kick-off, but the Wallabies are terribly hard to beat when it really matters. It is not quite the final European rugby wanted, but it should be a hell of a lot of fun," he told his readers.

"Few sides resist better than an Australian side with the scent of silverware in their nostrils and sure enough, they denied the Pumas a try. But they had to go to the extremes of bravery and bloody-mindedness to do it. If the blind-side flanker Scott Fardy - the star No 6 in this competition? - and the No 8 David Pocock have worked harder in a Test match, it does not bear thinking about. How they bent so far without breaking will remain one of the mysteries of the age."

Former England and Lions lock Paul Ackford was the most strident in predicting an upset.

Writing in a column in the Times of London, he claimed the All Blacks were "strangely lacklustre" in the semi-final win over South Africa.

"New Zealand's problem for much of the tournament has been that the opposition hasn't been good enough to worry them. Much has rightly been made of the All Blacks' glorious run since the previous global competition, a gallop during which they have lost just once each to South Africa, Australia and England. But lurking under the radar are two draws in that sequence, both against the Wallabies. At present, Australia are the only side on the planet equipped to probe New Zealand's rugby intelligence and cope with their physicality."

Ackford said Australia's strength at the breakdown was another bonus and that he did not think the Wallabies would have the scrummaging problems against the All Blacks that many are predicting.


"It (the scrum) is a weakness that is not life-threatening. New Zealand's pack do not possess the power Argentina generated at scrum time. They see that phase more as a restart than a penalty generator."

But Ackford stopped short of predicting an Australian victory.

"The wonderful truth about the final to come is that only a fool would predict the winner with any confidence."

But the Telegraph Sport section wasn't convinced of an Australian triumph and pointed the bone at the Wallaby scrum which struggled against Argentina.

"Ramiro Herrera does not receive the praise that Marcos Ayerza and Agustín Creevy deservedly attract for their mastery of the front-row arts, but on Sunday he was by far the most effective, absolutely marmalising James Slipper in the scrum, repeatedly forcing him to lose his feet or his binding. If he plays on Saturday, the All Blacks will devour him," the paper wrote.