Sunday, 25 September 2011

Pool A: New Zealand 37 - France 17

A Statement of Intent

When Daniel Carter lined up for a drop goal into the second half, neatly slotting the ball through the posts, he told the world: "We've learned our lessons from 2007 - beware."

This game was highly emotional. I was blubbing like a baby during the national anthems (which incidentally are so beautiful with that gorgeous voiced RWC choir).  The stadium looked amazing. It was our stadium of four million to say: ‘our time is now’.

What were my highlights? The first half saw clinical, beautiful rugby played by the men in black.  Forward and backs alike tackled like men possessed, wrestled and won at the breakdown, and when they broke the line, they made it count in points.

As usual, the incredible centre pairing of Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu (who is rapidly becoming my player of the tournament) were at the heart of things, with Smith tackling everything that dared move and Nonu cutting apart a flappy French defence.

Israel Dagg showed why he was picked over Mils at 15.  The man makes magic from nothing. I hope his injury is nothing worse than a niggle, because we need him. In saying that, we have a more than worthy backup in Muliaina and I do hope that the veteran will be allowed at some point to finish his All Black career with two more caps.

France started so well and I really thought after the first half that if they had scored first we might have been in for shades of 1999 again. Alas for France, it wasn't to be this time, on a highly emotional night for an All Black team seeking revenge and celebration for their centurion captain.

And what of Richie McCaw?  Well any talk of him losing his form is complete cobblers. The man was everywhere tonight, and that is why we love you so Richie. You fight and graft until the death. You wear your rugby heart on your sleeve and it has been an honour to watch you over these years, and to have you in the team that we support. We are blessed and you are bloody magnificent. And was that a tear in his eye when he received his 100th cap from Jock Hobbs?  Our captain cries on cue too. Is there anything he can't do?

As for Lievremont and his team in white.  They showed some spirit to come back in that second half and will they be too worried about going into the northern hemisphere side of the draw? Still, maybe the French didn't really want to throw this one either.  An angry French fan had words with Lievremont after the test where the French coach, character to the end, gave it back.  In the end it was reported a security guard had to step in.

My honourable mentions tonight: Nonu, Weepu (how good was he tonight, I take it all back Piri), Dan the man, McCaw, Smith, Kaino, Whitelock and SBW. 


Millie said...

My highlight was Corey Jane. Brillaint.

Ferdy said...

Yes - of course Millie - how could I forget Cory Jane!? And that brilliant try. I hope his concussions injuries are not too severe.