Australia was never supposed to win, but that hasn’t stopped the hearts of rugby die hards quietly breaking across the nation.
Fans who roused themselves from their beds in the pre-dawn hours, or opted to pull all-nighters, have been left to lick their wounds after the Wallabies lost the historic World Cup contest against the All Blacks.
But at least they got some electrifying, heart-stopping drama for their trouble.
After a mighty first half by the Kiwis, Australia stormed back in the second half to come within four points.
But the All Blacks weren’t about to give up on the tantalising prospect of a record third World Cup win, and the Australians, hurt by injuries and three crucial refereeing blunders, went down 34-17 at Twickenham.
Police in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne said crowds who turned out to watch the match at venues across the three cities were well behaved, and there were no reports of trouble.
Wallabies fans at Sydney’s Star City Casino agreed it was a quality game.
“We played well, we didn’t embarrass ourselves or get flogged,” Liam Coolahan said.
“We lost to a better team.”
Fans took to social media to praise the Wallabies’ tenacity, and the pain of watching Australia’s World Cup dreams crumble was evident. But so too was the level of respect for the All Blacks.
Former Wallaby turned author Peter FitzSimons summed up the sentiment of many fans, tweeting: “All Blacks worthy winners. Congrats to them and NZ But Wallabies still covered themselves in glory, with the way they played the game.”
Actor Hugh Jackman said the Australian side was pure class.
“Watch out world … 2019 is ALL Green and Gold,” he tweeted.
Singer Kylie Minogue’s pre-match excitement was on full display as the game kicked off, and she later offered her thanks to the Wallabies for an amazing World Cup campaign.
“You have a big fan right here,” she tweeted.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the All Blacks were worthy world champions, and thanked the Wallabies for a gutsy campaign, right down to the final and thrilling fight back in the final’s second half.
Even the British Prime Minister David Cameron tipped his hat.
“Brilliant contest by 2 outstanding teams,” he tweeted.
Saturday’s match was the first time Australia and New Zealand had faced off in a World Cup final, and the historic moment was marked in Sydney in epic style, with the Opera House bathed in green and gold.
In Australia, and across the ditch, All Blacks fans erupted in emphatic performances of the haka as the Kiwi side cemented their third World Cup win, and became the first ever team to take back to back titles.
But one All Blacks supporter is happier than most, after he pocketed a cool $A132,400 profit on the back of the biggest ever bet placed with the TAB in New Zealand.
The TAB hasn’t named the winner, saying only that they live in New Zealand’s North Island.
A security guard at Star City Casino said that with a combination of the game and Halloween the night was “busier than New Year’s Eve”.