New Zealand win Rugby World Cup

New Zealand held off an onset of nerves to claim the World Cup final with a 8-7 victory over France on Sunday.

24 October 2011, 12:00am
With massive expectations on the All Blacks, they struggled to deal with the pressure as France took the fight to them at Eden Park.

However Tony Woodcock's early try and a Stephen Donald penalty saw them repeat their 1987 success.

Few people gave France a chance in the match, particularly after their heavy loss to New Zealand in the pool stages.

However Les Bleus - or Les Blancs as they were on the night - never read the script as they gave the hosts one hell of a fright.

Thierry Dusautoir's second-half try and Francois Trinh-Duc's conversion ensured the nails of the New Zealand public were chewed away right until the final whistle.

And the French, in particular, deserve massive credit for their defence - with New Zealand unable to find a way through.

Just like the pool game, France got off to an impressive start. Having met the challenge of the haka head on, France were quickly out of the blocks and playing with flair and freedom.

Piri Weepu, though, had the chance to draw first blood for the All Blacks with a sixth-minute penalty but he hooked it wildly wide.

And having withstood the early French pressure, the All Blacks took the lead when a textbook lineout move saw Jerome Kaino pop the ball down for Woodcock to power over on 15 minutes.

However despite getting the early score they were after New Zealand failed to build on the platform in the first half.

Weepu missed the conversion and was then off-target with his third successive shot at posts on 26 minutes.

And as the nerves seemed to creep into the New Zealand game - and with Aaron Cruden having to go off with a knee injury - France began to sense a chance.

Trinh-Duc, himself on for the injured Morgan Parra, went close with a drop-goal, while only a desperate tap-tackle from Weepu stopped an incisive break from the replacement fly-half two minutes before the interval.

Dimitri Yachvili missed with his first shot at goal just after the break - although it was a tough chance out wide for the scrum-half.

Donald, though, made no mistake with a straightforward effort on 45 minutes.

The France response was immediate as the impressive Dusautoir powered over just by the posts, with Trinh-Duc's interception putting Les Bleus on the front foot. Trinh-Duc converted to cut the deficit to one point.

The pressure suddenly seemed to be weighing heavy on the All Blacks as they lacked direction in attack - with the French defence driving them back.

Trinh-Duc went wide with a long-range penalty attempt on 64 minutes as the game built towards a thrilling finale.

And although France enjoyed the better of the play in the final 15 minutes, it was the turn of the New Zealand defence to shine.

Not only did they keep the French attack at bay, they kept their discipline to prevent France getting a chance to go for goal.