It's like a trip to the dentist - we're numb but relieved

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 12:00 24/10/2011

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OPINION: Eden Park might have been the only piece of turf on earth on which the All Blacks would have beaten France in last night's World Cup final.

As the country's blood pressure reached critical levels, the 61,079 fans and the thousands with black flags fluttering on cars got them home. And about time too.

Had this been played at, god forbid, Twickenham or Cardiff, the All Blacks' 8-7 would probably not have been enough.

Our two World Cup wins have both been won in the Auckland suburb of Sandringham.

It was like a visit to the dentist; relief that the whole trauma was over and done with, but it left a numb feeling.

Graham Henry had an unprecedented eight years and so he should have won the blimming thing.

But how nice it would have been to win it playing champagne New Zealand rugby, instead of battering away at the French Maginot Line all night.

Instead it came down to black courage and a refusal to lose, a refusal to give away penalties and a cool referee in Craig Joubert refusing to panic.

No longer do we have to be on tenterhooks for an entire year with the world laughing at the best team between World Cups.

But how ironic it was that the All Blacks won using a planned lineout move against a superior French lineout and scored by flying fattie Tony Woodcock through the only chasm the Frenchies left open all game. That one came straight out of video analysis.

By early in the second spell though, Thierry Dusautoir and his garcons had neutralised the All Black running game and they needed a mere penalty kick to send us all searching for a rope.

The French had their rooster tails up, the All Blacks were never going to get another point and it seemed like the horribilis of 2007 revisited as they ran out of ideas.

Seven of the Tricolores last night had played in the 2007 debacle.

If the All Blacks hadn't won this one, where and when would they have?

Just imagine how potent the Tricolores might have been had the players been on speaking terms with their coach.

Both teams lost their flyhalfs to injury, but losing the wounded Morgan Parra, battered by the Ma'a Nonu tank, really hurt the Tricolores.

He was there for his goal-kicking and you can bet he would have slotted that 64th-minute penalty kick that Francois Trinh-Duc shanked.

Allez Stephen Donald. His winning kick was a perfect golf shot and Beaver, your sins from Hong Kong are absolved.

That All Black No 10 jersey is jinxed. Aaron Cruden might have kicked the All Blacks to World Cup victory had he not hyper-extended his knee after going all darned season without an injury.

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After all the buildup, he lasted only 33 minutes, as many as Colin Slade did against Argentina and for Cruden to collect his winner's medal on crutches was sad.

He would have taken that winning kick had he been there.

We'd all expected Piri Weepu to be the coolest cucumber, but pressure does funny things.

After his metronomic goal-kicking in the quarterfinal, he began missing kicks against Australia and missed all three last night.

All of the All Blacks kept kicking the ball away, but Weepu hoofed two horrors back to France after halftime following hard-won turnovers.

After his flykick led to Dusautoir's try, Weepu had to walk.

The All Blacks might have got through on petrol fumes but at least now we can get on with our lives, headmaster Henry can retire and John Key can keep smiling on the front benches.

Poor M'sieu Thierry Dusautoir. He almost smiled when Ian Smith on Sky TV called him Thierry Henry; wrong game, wrong ball Ian.

Bring on 2015, but not until 2015 thanks!

- Manawatu Standard

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