RWC 2011 – the Final – New Zealand vs France

October 24, 2011 at 3:27 am | Posted in Sporting Event | Leave a comment
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So I watched the final – last night. As a New Zealander, I am so glad and relieved that the All Blacks won. It was not a pretty victory, nor a big victory, but a deserved victory – 8-7 !

Once again, defence won the game. The All Blacks, did not deliver the kind of performance that they did against Australia (semi-final) and Argentina (quarter-final), but they tackled their hearts out and the forwards worked the hard tough metres.

It was a close game and the result was never assured. Both teams had a bad night with their kicking; both kicked 1 out of 4 attempts, and thankfully for New Zealand, our kick was worth one more point!

I think that the All Blacks without Dan Carter was weakened. But it speaks volumes for New Zealand’s depth in players that Stephen Donald became an unexpected hero – he kicked what turned out to be the winning penalty. Such has been the bad run of injuries to the first five-eights, that Donald who was not in the original team was called up – while whitebait fishing, so the story goes – within days of the final to provide cover for Aaron Cruden (who was also called in, from his skateboard, so the story goes) when Dan Carter was injured in training.

The pressure on the kickers must have been immense. Piri Weepu had a bad night with the boot, but made up for it in his tackling and marshaling the team – and saving a certain French try. the French kicking was equally ‘off’: only managing the conversion from close in.

Given the work done by both sets of forwards, it seems fitting that both trys were scored by forwards: Tony Woodcock and Thierry Dusautoir. The later, the French captain, was also made man-of-the-match. This was fitting in some ways, as the All Black team work, on defence, won them the game.

France were a little more inventive with their attacks; but the All Black defence was up to it. France won better line-out ball and their scrum was more than competitive; but the All Blacks tackled and tackled and tackled. In the end it was not anything fancy: just tackling hard, and sprinting back to your place in the defensive pattern, and doing it again.

Only with three minutes to go did the All Blacks snuff out French hopes: by retaining possession in the forwards, through a series of slow pick-and-goes that wound the clock down.

The win puts the demons of 1991 and 2007 to rest, and sets them up for the next decade or so. It sets the example and the bar for future All Black teams.

Finally, I think it is fitting that France, who out tackled a spirited 14-man Wales to an 9-8 win, to get to the final, were, in turn, out tackled to a 7-8 loss, in the final.

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