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Saturday, November 6, 1999 Published at 18:05 GMT

Aussies crowned world champions

Burke slotted three first-half penalties

France 12-35 Australia
Australia have been crowned World Cup champions, overcoming a brave challenge from gallant underdogs France to earn a place in rugby history.

The Aussies became the first country to win the Webb Ellis Trophy twice with a comprehensive 35-12 dismantling of a persistent but tired-looking French side.

The Queen presented skipper John Eales with the trophy, known colloquially down under as Bill, in front of 72,000 spectators at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Eales was one of only two Australian players remaining from the side which last won the trophy in 1991.

A match too many

France were bidding for their own place in the record books as the first northern hemisphere side to win the World Cup.

But the clash proved one match too many as they failed to reproduce the scintillating form which took them past tournament favourites New Zealand in their semi-final.

For 65 minutes they kept in touch, despite the ill-discipline which handed Australia nine penalties.

Full-back Matt Burke kicked seven of them to take them into a 21-12 lead with fifteen minutes to go.

But the Australian strength and unstoppable momentum had taken their toll on the French and they finally buckled with fifteen minutes to go.

[ image: An Australian fan soaks up the atmosphere in Cardiff]
An Australian fan soaks up the atmosphere in Cardiff
The match was clinched by a try from powerful right winger Ben Tune and substitute Owen Finegan added a second in injury time to put the gloss on a memorable win.

With both sides playing for a place in the history books, nerves played a big part in what was a somewhat scrappy climax to the tournament.

Australia led 12-6 at the interval after a lfurry of first-half penalties as both teams struggled to find the spark to ignite their performance.

Aussie power

But the southern hemisphere side started to take control after the break as their extra power began to show.

The wall of Blue somehow held out as Australia had to settle for a fourth penalty goal which Larkham kicked to extend the lead to 15-6.

The French closed the gap when, after a thundering burst down the centre from first Ntamack and then Benazzi, Eales was penalised for handling in the maul and Lamaison converted the kick.

Australia then produced their most threatening move of the match which should have ended in a try under the posts which would have killed the French off.

Larkham and Burke punched the holes in the French back line that allowed Roth to power through but he dropped the ball a fraction of a second before manging to touch it down.

Burke added a couple more penalty kicks to Lamaison's one as the game waited for its defining moment.

It came on 65 minutes when the Australians finally managed to break the wall of Blue.

Scrum-half George Gregan made vital yards with a darting run before feeding Horan. He slipped the ball out to right winger Ben Tune who smashed his way through two French backs for the game's first try.

Burke added the two points, to bring his tally to 23, and leave the French trailing by 16 points.

Substitute Owen Finegan added a second try under the posts in injury time and Burke converted it to take the score to 35-12, a more handsome scoreline than France perhaps deserved.

Australia: Burke, Tune, Herbert, Horan, Roff, Larkham, Gregan, Harry, Foley, Blades, Giffin, Eales, Cockbain, Wilson, Kefu.
Replacements: Little, Grey, Whitaker, Connors, Finegan, Crowley, Paul.
France: Garbajosa, Bernat-Salle, Dourthe, N'Tamack, Dominici, Lamaison, Galthie, Soulette, Ibanez, Tournaire, Benazzi, Pelous, Lievremont, Magne, Juillet.
Replacements: Mola, Glas, Castaignede, Costes, Brouzet, De Villiers, Dal Maso.
Referee: Andre Watson (South Africa)

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