You demanded them, so you've got them - the final Power Rankings to Rule Them All.
Now the citing commissioner has been passed over, there are just 46 players, two sets of coaching staffs, one set of eagle-eyed officials, Mother Nature and Lady Luck who can influence the result of the final.
With that in mind, it seemed pointless doing anther round of Team Power Rankings, although we welcome you to peruse through the back files to use hindsight to pick holes in the thinking, or rise to your feet as one to applaud the pre-RWC Rankings that picked the final (while conveniently ignoring Nos 3-5.
If I was to rank the remaining four teams it would be New Zealand at the top with a Rizla's width to Australia, South Africa and Argentina almost impossible to split for third.
Likewise, with 46 players remaining with a chance to drink Piper-Heidsieck from the Webb Ellis Cup, a top 25 Player Power Rankings seemed a little redundant, but here's how we ranked the semi- and quarter-final combatants over the past two weeks:
Player stats have been based on a mixture of stats, game-changing interventions, reputation and a smidgen of intuition. For these final rankings, stats pretty much go out the window. As do past positions on the PPRs. This is purely about who can do what at Twickenham from 5am on Sunday morning. Without further ado, here are the 10 most pivotal figures leading into the World Cup final.
1. Richie McCaw - New Zealand - flanker
It's Richie time. It has been quite interesting watching the machine chug his way unspectacularly through pool play before starting to put the needle into the red zone for the knockouts. Rankings is a sucker for an allegory and the Tortoise and the Hare is almost apt, but McCaw is far more influential than just as a fast finisher. While the loose forward trio of David Pocock, Scott Fardy and Michael Hooper has been receiving the sort of rave reviews normally reserved for the West End of London, it is easy to forget that the McCaw, Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino triumvirate must rate as one of the greatest of all-time, if not the greatest. Also, McCaw's reading of Owens could be crucial. He never got on the same page as Jerome Garces and it nearly cost the All Blacks a semifinal they should have won more comfortably. That sort of referee-captain disconnect is unlikely to happen twice in a row. Finally, this is almost certainly McCaw's last test. Would any of the other 22 All Blacks on the same pitch as him ever be able to look him in the eye again if they didn't give every shred of energy to his 148th and final outing?
2. Daniel Carter - New Zealand - first-five
The big dogs are back on top and there is more to this thinking than shameless jingoism. Rankings genuinely believes that the All Blacks are a slightly better side, with more attacking weapons at their disposal. If Carter is at his best and is holding the inside defenders, then the All Blacks' strike power can be unleashed. Rankings also believes that the acclamation for Carter's semifinal performance was way OTT. Yes, he goalkicked nicely under pressure and his droppie was a rare and beautiful sight, but watch the replay again please and come back to me. In the first half, Carter slid back into previously bad post-2011 habits of shoveling the ball on laterally without asking any questions of the inside defenders, and his tactical kicking was at best questionable. This was more than balanced out by a command second half performance, but can he get away with a so-so half in the final? Doubt it.
3. David Pocock - Australia - No 8
A No 8 only in a numerical sense, Rankings wrestled with placing Pocock at the top of the pile but refrained from doing so on two counts. His is a destructive role, not a constructive one. As superbly skilled as he is at the breakdown, his role is to stop the All Blacks playing. He's not a ball-carrier or offloader, he's not a great link player, he's not a lineout force and he tackles less than his back-row colleagues. His one job is to be second man to the breakdown, and use his superhuman strength over the ball to either slow the attacking ball or win turnover pill - which he's done brilliantly 14 times, six more times than New Zealand's best, Read. The second reason for dropping him down was that the last time these two teams met in an important RWC match, Pocock was targeted and knocked off the ball at the rucks and was totally ineffective as NZ romped away to a 20-6 semifinal victory. Yes, he's dangerous, but far from unstoppable.
4. Nigel Owens - Wales - referee
He's the best in the game, has been the best at this tournament and deserves the big gig. After four matches he's given four yellow cards, which to these eyes is too many, but not reaching the more than a card-per-game excesses of Craig Joubert - eight in five games! - or Wayne Barnes. Rugby is a 15 upon 15 battle for supremacy and you can only hope the final isn't unduly influenced by the increasingly insidious ticky-tack yellow card, like we saw in both semifinals. As good as he is, rugby's Da Vinci Code rulebook means there is always a chance, unfortunately, that this match could be decided on an Owens' judgement call. (For evidence of this actually happening, please open your White Pages, ring the first McDougall you can find in the book and ask them what they thought of the Scotland-Australia quarter-final.)
5. Bernard Foley - Australia - First-five
Something of a minor revelation at the RWC, former sevens specialist Foley is about to face the examination of his life, and directing traffic and kicking goals will be the least of it. Whether it is Julian Savea or Nehe Milner-Skudder at first receiver, or Ma'a Nonu chopping back off either foot, the All Blacks are going to send traffic down his channel early, just like they did to poor Freddie Michalak before his hamstring allowed France to make a mercy substitution. How he deals with this will have a massive impact on how the final will play out. Both Foley and Matt Giteau are brave defenders - certainly not liabilities like Quade Cooper or Michalak - but they lack size. Foley's 78 per cent success rate with the boot puts him on a par with Carter and he's shown he can kick goals under intolerable pressure. He has also had success with the inside ball this tournament.
6. Scott Sio - Australia - prop
At this point we can only take Michael Cheika's word for it that Sio will be fit enough to be considered for the No 1 jersey. After James Slipper first threw the intercept pass that should have knocked the Wallabies out at the quarter-final stage and then was dominated by Argentine tighthead Ramiro Herrera, Australian fans will be desperate for Sio to be back (although we conveniently forget he wasn't looking to flash against Scotland before he was replaced). Either way, the Wallaby scrum is starting to creak on the loosehead side and Sio is their best chance of shoring up a facet of the game that usually takes on elevated importance during a final.
7. Ben Smith - New Zealand - Fullback
It was tempting to leave everybody from centre-threequarter and back out of this equation on the grounds they all so brilliantly cancel each other out. But as marvellous as the likes of Savea, Drew Mitchell, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Conrad Smith, Tevita Kuridrani et al are, Ben Smith elevates himself, quite literally, from the rest. Going into this tournament, Rankings rated Israel Folau the best outside back in the world, but injuries and a seeming lack of confidence have seem Smith leap ahead of the convert. His performance against South Africa was courageous and brilliant. I know, I said stats was not going to play a big part in this but consider Smith's tournament for a minute. His 65 carries are second only to Schalk Burger; he has made 453m, one behind Santiago Cordero; and his 10 breaks has him third-equal. Unfortunately there is no stat that records how safe a team feels with him patrolling the back field.
8. Ma'a Nonu/ SBW - New Zealand - second-five
Around about the 50-minute mark, Nonu is either going to hand over iron-fist-in-a-silk-glove duties to Sonny Bill Williams, or he's going to combine in midfield with him. Either way it is a frightening thought. As an example of how effective this quasi-partnership has been at this RWC, look at a couple of vignettes from the semifinal. Beauden Barrett's try looked simple, right? Well it was because of the way Nonu used his 100-odd tests of experience to just seed enough doubt in JP Pietersen's mind that he was caught in no-man's land. Second, watch SBW ease the pressure on his teammates with his charging run inside his own 22m shortly after he came on, giving the All Blacks much-needed front-foot ball from which to pump back into South African territory.
9. Matt Giteau - Australia - second-five
He doesn't show up on many stat sheets, but his influence has increased as the tournament as got tighter, much like McCaw and Carter. Finals are often decided by who plays the smartest in pressure moments. Giteau has got smarts coming out of every hole in his headgear.
10. Beauden Barrett - New Zealand - utility
Former Australian enfant terrible James O'Connor rated Barrett's entrance as the moment the semifinal against South Africa changed. Indeed, Julian Savea could have scored off Barrett's first touch and Pungarehu's finest scored himself shortly after. This is pure intuition - actually, that's too fancy a word, guesswork is more accurate - but Rankings senses this final will be decided on a Barrett intervention.