McCaw leads New Zealand to World Cup triumph
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw ended 24 years of hurt by lifting the World Cup trophy on home soil after a tense 8-7 victory over France at Eden Park .
France were written off in most quarters before the game after a campaign that had been scarred by infighting and pool defeats to Tonga and the All Blacks.
And when prop Tony Woodcock went over for the only try of the first half and Stephen Donald took the score to 8-0 with a second-half penalty the writing appeared on the wall.
However, France hit back through a try from inspirational captain Thierry Dusautoir and Francois Trinh-Duc added the conversion.
The All Blacks defended courageously to the end though and saw off a late French charge to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy for the first time since 1987.
France earned praise in midweek for allowing New Zealand to wear their traditional black kit despite winning the coin toss but there was no such respect on show when they faced down the haka before kick-off.
Indeed all the generosity was coming from the All Blacks, with Piri Weepu spurning the chance to record the first points of the final when he missed a penalty from the left touchline.
Yet despite sustained French pressure it was the hosts who crossed for the game’s opening try when prop Woodcock collected the ball from a lineout and rumbled over unopposed.
Weepu wasted the chance to add the extras and continued his struggles with the boot when he fired a second penalty attempt wide of the posts on 27 minutes.
While only one side managed a first-half try both lost their fly-halves with a head injury seeing Morgan Parra replaced by Trinh-Duc and Aaron Cruden limping off to make way for Bath’s Donald.
France should have reduced the arrears early in the second half only for Dimitri Yachvili’s kick to drop short.
Donald punished that error by kicking his first three points of the tournament to extend the lead to 8-0 but within moments France were back within a point.
Dusautoir, the France captain who has fought to hold the squad together during a rollercoaster campaign, drove through the last line of the All Blacks’ defence to put his side on the board and Trinh-Duc added the extras.
With 15 minutes to go Trinh-Duc had the chance to put France ahead with a penalty from half-way but his kick drifted well wide of the posts and the All Blacks held out to triumph.