Many people were expecting a big win for New Zealand on Sunday when they played France in the Rugby World Cup final, although Les Bleus produced arguably their best performance of the tournament to run the hosts mighty close.
The All Blacks clearly struggled to deal with the pressure at Eden Park and were left hanging on at the end of the match, just as the French did against 14-man Wales in the semi-final seven days earlier.
Tony Woodcock’s early try and a Stephen Donald penalty seemed to put New Zealand on their way to a comfortable victory, although Thierry Dusautoir’s second-half try and Francois Trinh-Duc’s conversion made things very close for comfort.
Richie McCaw was a relieved man at the final whistle, with the captain praising his team’s courage despite a less than impressive performance.
“It wasn’t very pretty, but it came down to how much desire, how much courage the boys had,” McCaw said.
“A lot of guys have put a lot of effort in for a long time, and they weren’t going to let the opportunity go.
“We probably didn’t play our best, but we played good enough. I take my hat off to every single player who took to the field.”