New Zealand won their third World Cup title, beating Australia in a pulsating five-try final at Twickenham cementing their status as the "greatest team ever".
The All Blacks 34-17 victory created history as they become the first team to defend their crown after winning on home soil four years ago thanks to a Man of the Match display from Dan Carter.
Not only was his kicking and attacking play the catalyst for the win, the stand-off made the most tackles in the game for New Zealand: 12.
All Black captain Richie McCaw becomes the first player to skipper two successful campaigns. The irrepressible Kieran Read played through the pain, Aaron Smith was sensational and Ma'a Nonu magnificent.
Tries from Nehe Milner-Skudder, Nonu and Beauden Barrett and 19 points from
Carter, which included four penalties, two conversions and a 40 metre drop goal
gave the Kiwis their first triumph outside of New Zealand.
Australia were in the game until the last ten minutes after trailing 16-3 at the break, thanks to Bernard Foley's boot and tries from David Pocock and Tevita Kuridrani in the second half.
Australia scored two converted tries during the ten minutes Ben Smith was off the field for a dangerous tackle on Drew Mitchell.
Steve Hansen's men held on for the win despite losing a 19 point lead before Carter's drop kick and Barrett's try sealed the victory.
Australia neutralised Julian Savea a la the Springboks on Jonah Lomu in 1995 but could not contain Carter or Nonu, who were superb.
Michael Hooper, David Pocock and Scott Fardy were winning the breakdown battle over Richie McCaw and Jerome Kaino, but could never turn domination into points.
Australia's set pieces both fell apart in contrast to their scrounging on the ground.
New Zealand dominated territory (79%) and possession (71%) in the first 40 minutes and Carter made the Wallabies pay, kicking two penalties and converting Milner-Skudder's try.
The first quarter saw both teams - predictably - play in their opposition's half, but Milner-Skudder was out on his own, leading the metres made (64), offloads and clean breaks (3) as well as scoring the half's only try.
Three Daniel Carter penalties cancelled out Foley's only success after 36 minutes until some magic handling from New Zealand turned the game with the score 9-3.
Prior to the try on 27 minutes, Australia lost Matt Giteau to concussion after attempting a tackle on Ma'a Nonu and was replaced by Kurtley Beale.
New Zealand spent most of the time camped inside Australia's half but could not capitalise as the Wallabies' back-row made seven turnovers inside their own half.
Eventually pressure and some iffy refereeing led to the All Blacks scoring - as is their want - on the stroke of half-time to lead 16-3.
Conrad Smith broke through some weak Aussie defence passed to Aaron Smith who found McCaw to send the winger into the corner for the defining score. Carter added the extras.
No team had ever come back from a half-time deficit and that remains the same. Michael Cheika would have expressed his concern at not conceding first but rather scoring, but it was not to be.
Steve Hansen made an inspired substitution, switching Conrad Smith with Sonny Bill Williams and the impact was brutal as it was immediate.
Williams took the ball up-field, sucked-in three Aussie defenders before an audacious offload to Nonu, whose angled run around a scrum of players, saw him beat Tevita Kuridrani, step Beale, sprint 40 metres and hold off Drew Mitchell to score - game over?
Carter missed the conversion, pushing it to the right, but his side led 22-3.
It would be 51 minutes before Australia had possession in the Kiwi 22 and they made it count.
In the build-up to Pocock's try, Ben Smith was penalised and sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle on Mitchell after conversing with TMO Shaun Veldsman.
Australia set-up a driving maul and destroyed the All Blacks' forwards attempt to defend.
Foley's touch-line conversion was successful, while the deficit was reduced to 11 points at 21-10 with 25 minutes remaining.
Australia tried to make the extra man count but after some sustained pressure New Zealand won a penalty turnover.
Referee Nigel Owens was not having a good game; Australia questioning a high tackle from Kaino that went unpunished in range of a penalty shot at goal and for a short advantage played.
Owens also failed to spot a forward pass in the build-up to the Kiwis first try which was at a crucial point in the game.
On the stroke of Ben Smith returning to the game, Australia scored their second try and conversion inside the ten minutes the fullback was off the field.
A mistake by Milner-Skudder who failed to collect Will Genia's kick and let the ball bounce. Foley gathered and Kuridrani took the pass, beat the covering defence and scored next to the posts.
Foley's second conversion reduced the Kiwi lead to four points as the game edged towards the final quarter. Then Carter added his name to the list of great drop kick moments in the match of all matches.
With ten minutes to play Carter's snap drop goal from 40 metres -
reminiscent of Stephen Larkham in 1999 semi-final against South Africa at the
same ground - extended his team's lead to a converted try.
What is it about World Cup finals and incredible drop goals?
The flyhalf's brilliance was majestic although not as dramatic as Joel Stransky or Jonny Wilkinson's famous match-winners in 1995 and 2003, but who cares?
Carter's fourth penalty took the lead to ten points and then some fancy footwork from Ben Smith and Barrett with a minute to play provided the icing on the cake. Simply sensational as the All Blacks are still the kings.
Final Score New Zealand 34 (16) Australia 17 (3)
Tries - Milner-Skudder, Nonu, Barrett
Pen - Carter (4)
Con - Carter (2)
Drop - Carter
Cards - Ben Smith (Yellow)
Tries - Pocock, Kuridrani
Pen - Foley
Con - Foley (2)
Referee: Nigel Owens (WAL)
Assistant referees: Jerome Garces (FRA), Wayne Barnes (ENG)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (RSA)
15 Ben Smith, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Sonny Bill Williams.
15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements:16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Kurtley Beale.