The 1972 RWC Final Wales v New Zealand

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The inaugural Rugby World Cup took place in 1987, but if the tournament had commenced fifteen years earlier maybe, just maybe, the final would have been between arguably the two best teams in the world at the time, Wales and New Zealand.

The two sides faced each other at Cardiff Arms Park on December 2 1972, in front of 50,000 spectators, as part of the seventh All Blacks winter tour to the UK and France.

New Zealand had already tasted defeated in Wales when Llanelli led by Delme Thomas won 9-3 at Stradey Park on October 31st,  Thomas was made captain of Wales for this match, the only time he led his country.

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In torrential rain, Wales struggled to get into the game, Maori full back Joe Karam kicked two penalties in the opening eight minutes to give the All Blacks a 6-0 lead.

After eighteen minutes Sid Going kicked ahead, and after receiving the ball from the resulting ruck, worked it out to prop Keith Murdoch who drove through the Welsh defence, and despite being tackled his momentum took him over for a try,

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Joe Karam missed the conversion but kicked another penalty soon after, followed by one from Phil Bennett on twenty two minutes, to give the All Blacks a 13-3 half time lead.

Five minutes into the second half, a tackle on Sid Going forced him to spill the ball, Wales moved the ball quickly to left wing John Bevan who sprinted 40 yards to score in the corner.

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Phil Bennett missed the conversion, but gave Wales another three points after kicking a penalty four minutes later, taking the score to Wales 10 New Zealand 13.

Karam and Bennett exchanged penalties to make it 13-16 to the men in black, before Delme Thomas and Barry Llewellyn got in each others way resulting in a penalty to give Karam a shot at goal resulting in another three points for the visitors, extending their lead to 13-19.

With eleven minutes to go Delme Thomas caught a drop out just outside the NZ twenty five, and fed the ball to JPR Williams ,the full back drove for the corner, was half tackled, but grounded the ball to score what looked like a perfectly good try but referee Johnson, of England, deemed that the good doctor had made a double movement and awarded NZ a penalty.

The Welsh pack were totally dominant at this point and New Zealand were under the cosh and looking exhausted.

With 78 minutes on the clock the All Blacks were getting more and more desperate as Wales launched attack after attack, which they could only repel with a series of obstructions and late tackles, Phil Bennet kicked a penalty to bring Wales within three points.

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Another late tackle by the All Blacks in injury time, gave Phil Bennett a penalty attempt to draw the match, the kick drifted wide, and New Zealand emerged as victors 19-16.

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