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All Blacks win epic World Cup final

By Chris Matthews at Eden Park

Published: 6:00AM Monday October 24, 2011 Source: ONE News

The All Blacks' World Cup victory last night came at the end of an extraordinary final which over-turned a history of dud finals and ended 24 years of New Zealand pain.

The nail-biting 8-7 win over World Cup enemies France would rank right along side the 1995 final, when the Springboks beat the All Blacks 15-12 in extra time, and the 2003 final where Jonny Wilkinson snapped over a drop goal from the ages to deny the Wallabies 20-17 in Sydney.

All three finals were gripping, full of drama and - most importantly - were tight, but what perhaps sets the 2011 final above all of its predecessors was that France weren't even meant to come close.

Written off by everybody, most of the country's 4.4 million pundits were expecting an All Blacks win by at least 10 points.

France were poor throughout the entire World Cup. They had been dismissed by the All Blacks by 20 points in pool play and then inexplicably dropped their final pool match to Tonga.

Had it not been for Tonga's shock loss to Canada two weeks prior, Les Bleus would have said bon voyage some time ago.

Then after last weekend's lacklustre display against Wales, where they failed to put the 14-man Welsh team away, France might as well have had packed their bags then and there.

Or so we thought. But on the back of an inspirational display by captain Thierry Dusautoir, the French sprit of 2007 and 1999 was reignited.

Had they been playing a big fat trick? Had they honestly been stumbling through the whole tournament to lull the All Blacks into a false sense of security?

French coach Marc Lievremont had said before the pool match between the two sides that he thought France was only capable of beating the All Blacks once and he was nearly proven right if it wasn't for the New Zealand defence.

And that is perhaps another reason why this final will stand tall above all others. The All Blacks can blow teams off the park, we all know that, but when a game turns into an arm wrestle this New Zealand team was supposedly vulnerable.

Cardiff proved that, but last night they stayed cool under pressure, absorbed what was thrown at them with a steely determination and held their discipline to hold on for the one-point win.

It was especially rewarding for the survivors of Cardiff - Richie McCaw, Conrad Smith, Andy Ellis, Ali Williams, Keven Mealamu, Andrew Hore and Tony Woodcock - who had been through the ultimate pain for the ultimate gain.

And while this World Cup final didn't have the sleazy subplot of Suzie from 1995 there were some terrific individual stories.

There was Stephen Donald, who as the All Blacks' fourth choice 10 - after being vilified by a nation, came from a whitebating trip somewhere in the mighty Waikato to kick the decisive penalty goal. Hollywood stuff.

And there was Piri Weepu, who went from viral superhero to the man who nearly cost the All Blacks' World Cup glory.

But there was also Francois Trinh-Duc and Damien Traille, who were unseen for most of the World Cup, and were unleashed on the All Blacks and very nearly stole the show as replacements from the bench. A French conspiracy? Only they would know.

Ultimately though it was a triumph for a rugby mad nation.

Sure it didn't have the political undertones of the Nelson Mandela-inspired 1995 win, although John Key, one month away from an election, was conspicuous for all to see.

Nor did the match reach the great playing standards of Sydney in 2003, but it was tense and it was dramatic.

It was sporting theatre at its very best.

What do you think of the All Blacks' victory? Have your say on the messageboard below.

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  • norsims said on 2011-10-30 @ 05:22 NZDT: Report abusive post

    All blacks deserved winning the RWC overall but the French were the better team in the final. I was an annoyed that the AB's were not very gracious victors! None of the AB's comments immediately after the match didn't give any credit to the French for making it such a nail biting game. As an expat, Now I can understand why there is comments from other countries that the kiwis are a bit arrogant when it comes to rugby.

  • TTT said on 2011-10-25 @ 07:36 NZDT: Report abusive post

    It was Great to see the VOLUNTEERS honoured too in the Parade. Given their time and work for Free to make this Rugby World Cup A BIG success.

  • gatman said on 2011-10-24 @ 12:46 NZDT: Report abusive post

    What on earth 's this ??? Les Blues the better side on the night ??? Joubert the 16th man ??? If you're able to watch it again you will see that they weren't & he wasn't !! There were inaccuracies all over the park...it swung both ways... & all night long but in the end THE better side won on the night, without any doubt at all. Huge defensive effort by the All Blacks. They are a great team. They are the Champions ! Kia Kaha !!

  • Marg27 said on 2011-10-24 @ 12:29 NZDT: Report abusive post

    So proud of New Zealand and the All Blacks. The only unbeaten team in the RWC. Loved being in Auckland last week and seeing the fanzone, Wynyard Quarter, Cloud, Taste etc - Auckland you have done yourselves proud - well done!!

  • Cha858 said on 2011-10-24 @ 12:25 NZDT: Report abusive post

    To all those who keep blaming the ref's for their team loosing, GET A LIFE. It's not an exact science and they are only human, but to blame Joubert for the French loss is a joke. Either team COULD have won it and honestly, at times France looked most likely to - but they didn't. Without the refs there is no game, so get over it. A lot of the laws are subjective and the calls are often 50/50 but in the end someone with the skill, fitness and guts to do the job has to blow the whistle.