All Blacks will have to shed more blood to beat French

23:00, Oct 16 2011

So the Frenchies are dog tucker and our omnipotent All Blacks only need to turn up to Eden Park next Sunday to erase 20 years of grief.

We have no right to be so presumptuous when it comes to playing Le Coq, even this ragtag 2011 version.

Our national psyche is still at stake and nervous anxiety still abounds, and maybe John Key's general election result.

As our nation's supplies of Valium and paracetamol dwindle, there's another week to suffer because French coach Marc Lievremont doesn't care how his team wins.

Surely we can learn from history, like 1999 and 2007 history, and chuck the Rainbow Warrior outrage in for good measure. The French are dangerous because they are extra-terrestrial Frenchmen. Back in pool play the Froggies knew they could qualify for a quarterfinal without busting a gut against the All Blacks.

So next Sunday the All Blacks will have to shed more blood, after receiving copious transfusions last night in the win over Australia at Eden Park which was way more magnificent than 20-6 sounds.


Just do the maths. The All Blacks also missed 17 points from goalkicks, including Israel Dagg's wonky dropped goal attempt and the Wallabies got all of theirs, just two.

That sums up the semifinal, the ABs' first World Cup win over Australia, unpalatable as that sounds.

Richie McCaw and his men were like biblical warriors. McCaw bled for his country, so did Cory Jane with his rouge snout, Andy Ellis gushed a couple of pints and the 35-year-old expatriate Bronco, Brad Thorn, just kept fist-pumping.

Even Graham Henry afterwards had claret above his right eyebrow, perhaps from loving up to one of the wounded tighties.

Sonny Bill looked psyched when he loped on in minute No72, and lasted just four minutes before seeing yellow for putting a Canterbury-Bankstown shoulder on Quade Cooper.

Who cares there was just one try. We just need this World Cup monkey gone so we can go back to having a life. Beforehand, even tough old coach Fred Allen looked nervous. But Fred, the Aussies were never going to match our scrum, nor our loose trio.

The Wallabies come from the university classes but their tactic of continually bombing Cory Jane and Israel Dagg was gormless. The two, who had the illicit night out in Takapuna, might soon receive offers from the Essendon Bombers.

Our air force ruled the skies and the Wallabies' land forces were pummelled. Jerome Kaino arrested Digby Ioane, McCaw put in kamikaze hits, remember Kieran Read's scything tackle, even Owen Franks monstering Pat McCabe.

Cooper appeared to be sleeping during Advance Australia Fair and when he shanked his kickoff into touch. He and Will Genia were neutralised because their forwards were towelled.

Then there was our Manawatu Turbo, Aaron Cruden, propelled from watching Georgia play in Palmerston North to starting No10 in one of the biggest tests played on New Zealand soil. He broke, grubbered, potted a goal (something he's done just once for Manawatu, against Wellington) and should have been given the droppie Dagg tried to rattle over.

Meanwhile, that other game had to be one of the poorest World Cup semifinals played as France descended into nothingness and Wales reverted to type.

Wales can wail about referee Alain Rolland; one writer called him "half French" for sending off their skipper Sam Warburton. Rolland is now Wales' Suzie.

Warburton must have been in a strange head space to upend Vincent Clerc like that. Remember Rolland saw the tackle just once; and in real time it looked bad. That it was a big game was irrelevant.

Wales coach Warren Gatland should have been lamenting his goalkickers firing blanks.

The man Wales missed was first-five Rhys Priestland because the No10s on Saturday, James Hook and Stephen Jones were old-school automatons lacking flair and going nowhere.

Manawatu Standard