Live blog commentary - World Cup final

DAN GILHOOLY
Last updated 23:34 23/10/2011
NZ v France
ANDREW GORRIE/Fairfax Media Zoom
Wellington's Courtney Place is swarmed with rugby fans after the All Blacks' victory.

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Fulltime: NZ 8 France 7

80 MINUTES: We're into the last minute as Hore finds Thorn with a short throw!! Watch the NZ pack try to shut this down now. They're rolling it forward slowly. It goes to go ground and the hooter sounds. The French are penalised and this game's over. Let the celebrations begin! All Blacks are world champions.

79: France counter-ruck but they're penalised! It looks like Harinordoquy. Huge roar from the Eden Park crowd and Donald takes no chances with his clearance, to 10m from the French line.

78: Same old same old as the All Blacks keep it tight. The French defenders are getting increasingly desperate.

77: Solid NZ scrum and Read bursts blind. It's slow ball and Williams burrows forward, followed by Franks. Are they going to try this for the last three minutes? Risky stuff if they're penalised.

76: Rougerie hit hard by Smith. He busts the tackle but loses it under pressure from McCaw. Brilliant stuff from the All Blacks skipper. Smith is getting some treatment, his head came out second best in that exchange with Rougerie.

McCaw also looks dazed but he's back to his feet. NZ scrum, 40m from their line with 210 seconds on the clock.

75: Joubert goes to his whistle.... and it's a French scrum, 40m out. This game is on a knife edge with less than 5m remaining. Yachvili off(?) replaed by Doussain while Nonu makes way for Sonny Bill Williams at second-five. Fascinating change by the All Blacks coaching staff.

74: Fourteen phases now and France are keeping it tight, almost waiting for an All Blacks penalty...

73: Rougerie is thumped by Kahui but France roll on relentlessly, this is eight phases now. Just seven minutes left, this is it. Four years of hard work comes down to these last seven minutes for both teams.

72: Thorn wins it and Ellis bombs. France have it just inside their half and they go wide. Smith makes a strong tackle on Rougerie but Dusautoir drives on well. Mermoz is scragged to the ground but France still have it on halfway through Nallet and then Dusautoir.

71: Ten minutes for the All Blacks to hold on - which is all they're doing at the moment, barely creating a chance. Pierre wins this and it's moved to Palisson, who makes good ground down the left. The ball is eventually driven out. Huge pressure on Hore here, throwing 37m from his own line.

70: French lock Pierre is on for Pape but it's Harinordoquy who wins another. France drive and force a penalty, they clear to just inside the NZ half. Gee the French lineout has dominated proceedings tonight, they've arguably replaced South Africa as the best lineout in world rugby.

69: Szarzewski is on at hooker for France and he finds Harinordoquy for his seventh lineout win. France drive to the 40m line before Yachvili puts in a weighted kick. Claimed by the impressive Kahui, who hits it up strongly. Nice touch for Donald, who forces another French scrum on their own 22.

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67: A better All Blacks scrum as Ellis drills the kick. Traille tries a bomb that goes straight up but he reclaims it. Nallet drives forward for France, he's been outstanding tonight and now France go quickly left, and over halfway.

The forwards in white are winning the battle of the advantage line before Trinh-Duc bombs but it's comfortably taken by Dagg, who marks. He sends a huge spiral downfield and France will throw to a defensive lineout, 35m from their line.

66: France bomb which is beautifully claimed by Traille over Dagg. But the French knock on and it's an NZ scrum on their 22. Can they get out of their half? Dagg is getting attention, looks like he injured his hip when he came down from height contesting that high ball.

65: Bad shot. It's drifted to the right and short. Pressure valve released as Donald sends his drop out deep.

64: It's still NZ 8 France 7 as France march the All Blacks back at scrum time. France penalty!! Huge moment in this game. Mas put in some super pressure on Hore, who popped up. It's Trinh-Duc from right in front, 48m out.

63: Pape wins it with ease and Williams is penalised for playing the ball on the ground. Bad missed touch though from Trinh-Duc and Dagg replies with bomb. It goes too far and Harinordoquy runs 15m. Joubert blows his whistle right on halfway for a French scrum.

62: Ellis bombs, that's been a regular NZ tactic tonight. France run it out but Hore turns it over at the tackle, that's his trademark. The All Blacks attack down the right but Donald runs into touch. French throw, 25m out from their own line.

61: France win the NZ throw! More pressure but not used so well this time Mermoz grubbers straight into touch. Lineout 35m from the NZ line.

60: Scrum twists and it's against Poux on the French loosehead side. Another breather for the All Blacks. They'll throw 40m from their line.

59: Pape wins the lineout and after a couple of drives, Mermoz charges but loses it forward. A rare French error of late and it's an NZ scrum 20m from their line. A sense of real tension surrounds this game.

57: It's Harinordoquy again, what an athlete, as France drive this lineout. Mermoz and others run into trouble before Yachvili puts an effective kick in. Dagg can only find touch 20m from the NZ line. France are starting to squeeze control of this game.

56: Harinordoquy wins his fourth throw of the night and the French put it through two rucks before Trinh-Duc finds touch deep in NZ territory. Kahui throws quickly to Dagg, who finds touch near halfway. Read down and groggy but he's back in the game.

55: Another good French scrum. Rougerie's attempted grubber bounces off Smith and into touch. French defensive throw, 35m out.

53: All Blacks forwards work it away before a sweet break by Donald! Best All Blacks moment for some time now as they surge into French territory. Franks and McCaw make strong runs before Nonu has a stab down the right.

Some scrappy work at the base of the ruck sends Ellis back pedalling to halfway. Smith and Williams make charges before Nonu knocks on in the tackle. Great defence France and they win a scrum on halfway.

The All Blacks are lacking composure and the French coaching box and reserve bench are looking very animated.

52: Mas is down for treatment before France produce a throw that isn't straight. All Blacks scrum.

51: Good French scrum and they go through some phases before kicking deep. Dagg runs it out, he looks a little panicked but the All Blacks regroup and find touch 40m from their own line.

50: Whitelock and Mealamu are gone, replaced by Williams and Hore before Weepu kicks the restart out on the full! Weepu replaced now too, an unfortunate end to an exceptional tournament as Ellis enters the fray.

49: CONVERSION Trinh-Duc. NZ 8 France 7.

48: TRY Dusautoir. NZ 8 France 5.

Brilliant French try to the skipper, just as he did four years ago, and proof that these guys are right in this. It's no more than the French deserve for their efforts tonight, coming in the end off a turnover and some lovely attacking cohesion which ended with Dusautoir sliding in next to the upright.

47: Deep kickoff and Dagg responds with a mazy run. But he's turned it over and the French respond with a sizzling counter - it's the outstanding Trinh-Duc again. It goes through a number of phases and Rougerie goes close. This time it goes right...

46: PENALTY Donald. NZ 8 France 0. A little nervy, but it just snuck inside the right upright. Huge sigh of relief around the country. Change for France, Traille on for a hobbling Clerc - they've lost another game-breaking back.

45: Read wins tap ball and as usual it's Nonu carting it up. France penalised! In a very kickable position, straight in front, 30m out. Who's this striding forward? Stephen Donald of course. He's taken the kicking duties from Weepu. Cometh the hour...

44: All Blacks go deep and Medard returns with a bomb. Brilliant return from Kahui, who shrugs off two defenders in a barnstorming run over halfway.

Weepu hoists a quick nudge over the ruck but it's well fielded by Mermoz, who ultimately clears to touch, 35m from the French line.

43: It just drifts to the right. NZ drop out and they'll want to stamp some control on this match before France get a really decent foothold.

42: The French are making some serious headway here and the under-pressure hosts are penalised for hands in the ruck. It's McCaw. Tough decision here for France because it's wide out on the left but Yachvili is stepping up...

41: France get us under way and Jane is hammered deep in NZ territory. Weepu hoists one of his many box kicks tonight and it's brilliantly taken by Harinordoquy. Dusautoir hits it up and the dangerous Medard finds a little space.

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HALFTIME NZ 5 France 0. Well, we've got ourselves a doozy of a World Cup final.

All predictions that the All Blacks would clear out to a comprehensive win appear well wide of the mark. It's been a very even encounter, surprisingly so.

The French pack has lost nothing in comparison to the All Blacks eight and they've been surprisingly adept when keeping the ball in hand, leading to an advantage in possession and territory at the break.

They've also made five offloads to one, an area of the game in which the New Zealanders are usually dominant.

The one France weakness has been discipline, they've given away seven penalties to three but haven't paid for it due to a poor night with the boot for Weepu, who has badly missed his three shots.

Both sides have lost their No 10s to injury, with the All Blacks perhaps the more affected. While France get the services of the well-performed Trinh-Duc, New Zealand supporters will shift uncomfortably at the sight of Stephen Donald entering the game with very little recent rugby under his belt.

Read and Nonu have been the pick of the All Blacks with their running while Medard and Nallet are the French standouts to date.

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40: McCaw recovers another overthrow and Weepu is happy to bang it in to touch. A pretty defensive end to the half for the All Blacks - perhaps shows they're a rocked off their stride a litte right now.

39: Dagg with a shocking clearance which misses touch and the French return fire with the boot. The All Blacks counter, up near to halfway before Dagg bombs.

France field it and drive up near the halfway line. Trinh-Duc kicks out on the full and there's just time for a short All Blacks lineout, on attack 40m out.

38: A little heat on this NZ scrum but they clear and Nonu again makes good ground. France are penalised, looks like Dusautoir. Big relief for the hosts, who are looking a little shaky as halftime looms.

37: All Blacks win their own drop out and kick deep. Trinh-Duc makes a clean break and surges 20m. France have momentum as they fling it left but are halted. They go right but Trinh-Duc is held up brilliantly by McCaw. All Blacks defensive scrum.

36: To add insult, the All Blacks are penalised at scrum time and France clear to the NZ 22. They win the lineout and after a couple of rucks, Trinh-Duc unleashes a drop goal attempt from a handy position but it drifts right.

35: You couldn't write this script. Cruden has been helped from the field and Donald is on in the World Cup final!

The man who has a legion of critics the nation-wide has entered the biggest game imagineable to run the cutter. Huge sympathy for Cruden, who has been quiet but capable tonight.

34: Mistake here though as Servat throws down the NZ side. All Blacks go wide but lose it and Cruden is down! He's getting treated but the right knee looks dicey, it looks like a hyper-extension. Stephen Donald is warming up...

33: ABs win a free kick and Weepu clears. France lineout, just inside NZ's half. They're well in this at the moment, much more than most predicted.

32: Won again by Nallet before the industrious French pack unleash a series of tight drives. Knocked on though by Servat. NZ to feed to a defensive scrum. A chance for the French tight five to have a bit of a crack here. First some treatment for Whitelock, but he's fine.

31: Scrum twists, strong work from Woodcock, before Trinh-Duc kicks, it's touched by McCaw before it rolls into touch. Great result for France, who throw to an attacking lineout, 18m out.

31: Another French back down, this time Mermoz, but he's back on his feet. Drop out is knocked on by Kaino and it's France's first put in, 10m short of halfway.

30: Quick ball off the top by Read and they move it quickly left. Then back to Read, who makes a big charge - he's looking very sharp tonight - before Kahui tries a grubber. But it just rolls over the tryline and Rougerie can force for a drop out. France are doing well to hold on right now.

29: Nallet wins a short throw and France look to drive but make no headway. Trinh-Duc finds touch with a nice clearance. NZ attacking throw, 40m out. They still lead 5-0.

28: McCaw wins a deepish dropout and Read and Dagg make some nice runs before Weepu sends another deep wiper which dribbles into touch just 8m from the French line.

26: A bad bad miss. Normally a good goalkicker, Weepu's confidence appears well off tonight. The All Blacks will hope this doesn't come back to bite them. France must improve their discipline, they've conceded five penalties to NZ's two.

25: Whitelock soars but the All Blacks turn it over at the tackle. But at the next ruck France are penalised for holding on! Sometimes it's better to clear with the boot and up steps Weepu, he's missed his first two. This is 25m out and 12m in from the right touch.

24: France win it but Yachvili can only find touch on their 22. The pressure continues.

23: France win the lineout and bomb but it's claimed in spectacular style by Kahui. Read and Nonu make more powerful surges before Dagg probes beautifully with a 40m kick that finds touch just 5m from the French left corner flag. Pressure mounting on les Bleus.

22: Another injury problem for Parra. He's already been off once to the blood bin. He's off again, this time it looks like for good. He's being replaced by Trinh-Duc, the man who many believe should be wearing 10 anyway for France.

21: Read and Nonu also look threatening before it's flung wide. McCaw takes the tackle, 35m out. Nonu sees a half gap but is just lowered. Dagg has a crack down the outside but is bundled into the left touch. French throw on their 22.

20: Long throw from Mealamu, doesn't look straight but play on as Read links with a charging Kahui. Now Cruden and McCaw have dabs but France are nice and aggressive on D.

19: First one goes down, try again. It twists 90 degrees and the All Blacks win a penalty, they're getting the best of things via Joubert right now. All Blacks throw on halfway.

18: France win it and drive but they can't free it up. All Blacks win a scrum - the first of the match after nearly 18 minutes. This will be interesting.

17: Messy work from both teams at the restart before the All Blacks burst clear through Thorn, Nonu and Kahui. The latter is penalised for holding on. A relieved France can clear from their 22 and will throw to an attacking lineout, 20m out.

16: Weepu pushes the conversion to the left.

15: TRY Woodcock. NZ 5 France 0.

Brilliantly worked try, what a way to open the scoring! It was a deep throw to Kaino, who flicked it back to a charging Woodcock, who was virtually unchallenged as he charged 10m. Who would have picked the big loosehead to be the first to cross tonight? That had all the hallmarks of a move that has been rehearsed countless times on the practice field. Well, it's paid off.

14: Dusautoir wins good ball at the back but goes to ground and is penalised for holding on under good pressure from Weepu, who finds touch brilliantly. NZ attacking throw, 10m out. No shortage of early lineouts.

12: Morgan Parra has been down receiving treatment and is now leaving the field. It looks like a knee from McCaw was to blame although it was accidental.

All Blacks win the lineout and Weepu bombs. Not well handled but the French regather and win a penalty, they kick for touch and will throw to an attacking lineout, 35m from the NZ line.

11: Read wins a lineout and Weepu kicks long but not out. Medard counters with ball in hand, they've changed their approach hugely from the dull semifinal win over Wales. It goes wide to Mermoz, who grubbers into touch, 35m from the NZ line.

10: AB lineout win and Nonu charges hard in midfield. ABs turn it over and it's a super wiper kick from France. NZ throw just 10m from their own line.

9: Servat finds Harinordoquy, two hands and they drive before Yachvili kicks very deep. It's a beauty, just inside the NZ half. A very even start to this game, neither side could say they're on top.

7: Good high dropout and France win the loose ball near halfway. They move it quickly right and again look semi-dangerous as Nallet barges it up. Now they swing it left, there's no shortage of ambition from the French and they're looking pretty handy.

Loose pass though and the All Blacks have it 30m from their own line, and they're looking to run it out before Nonu unleashes a delicious wiper kick. French defensive throw, just 20m out from their line.

6: Bad miss, dragged badly. Weepu's now 15 from 21 at the tournament. French dropout.

4: Thorn wins a loose tap from the lineout on halfway and Kahui makes good ground. They make 10m before Kahui is pushed out in a blindside attack. A second penalty against France though, this time for offside against Parra. Weepu steps up from 36m out and close to his left touch. Tricky shot but conditions are nice and still.

2: First All Blacks throw is too deep! Bonnaire comes away, over halfway. They move it quickly right to Clerc and then back left, where Harinordoquy makes headway, 10m inside NZ half. France are keeping ball in hand but not making a lot of headway against a robust black defence. Loose pass from Yachvili but Medard recovers and makes good ground back over halfway. Big hit by Smith on Parra but France are retaining well, up to 13 phases now as Palisson makes good ground.

Palisson penalised for holding on, ending a good period for France, they held the ball well and made a little headway. More importantly, they forced an NZ lineout mistake, an area of the game where they could cause problems.

First minute: Craig Joubert blows his whistle and Weepu kicks short. All Blacks win and move it quickly left. They've got the ball but it's slw on their own 10m line. A high kick is well taken by Medard and France win some slow ball. Yachvili kicks but it sails straight out on the full! Poor start from Yachvili, nerves maybe. NZ throw, 35m out from the French line.

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Brilliant weather at a packed Eden Park for a monumental occasion.

The eyes of the sporting world is on Auckland as both teams sing their anthems.

What's going through the mind of the All Blacks players as they sign of God Defend New Zealand? Revenge perhaps for those who bowed out against France in the quarterfinals four years ago.

Now it's haka time, Piri Weepu steps up. Intriguing from France, who have formed a wedge formation and are holding hands to confront Kapa O Pango.

Now drama as Dusautoir and his men march forward! This in direct IRB contravention but who cares? It's the final. France have received this challenge in bold style. Game on!

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This is it. Welcome to our live blog commentary of the Rugby World Cup final between the All Blacks and France in Auckland.

Can the tournament hosts at last end 24 years of misery at this tournament?

Not since 1987, also against the French at Eden Park, have the All Blacks tasted World Cup glory.

A succession of five failed campaigns since has heaped the pressure on captain Richie McCaw and his men and they've responded in the best possible way at this tournament to date with a succession of dominant wins.

Their opponents, though, are unpredictable France - the side who so famously toppled the All Blacks in the World Cup semifinals in 1999 and quarterfinals in 2007. Both were matches the All Blacks were expected to win easily.

The 48th and final match of this seventh Rugby World Cup awaits...

Teams:

New Zealand: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Richard Kahui, Aaron Cruden, Piri Weepu, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Jerome Kaino, Sam Whitelock, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Andrew Hore, Ben Franks, Ali Williams, Adam Thomson, Andy Ellis, Stephen Donald, Sonny Bill Williams

France: Maxime Medard, Vincent Clerc, Aurelien Rougerie, Maxime Mermoz, Alexis Palisson, Morgan Parra, Dimitri Yachvili, Imanol Harinordoquy, Julien Bonnaire, Thierry Dusautoir (capt), Lionel Nallet, Pascal Pape, Nicolas Mas, William Servat, Jean-Baptiste Poux. Reserves: Dimitri Szarzewski, Fabien Barcella, Julien Pierre, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Jean-Marc Doussain, Francois Trinh-Duc, Damien Traille

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)

- with Marc Hinton

- Stuff

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