Well, what was considered the "easy" route to the finals for New Zealand turned into a rocky rogering from a French team that was absolutely on fire! It was probably the most scintillating display of running rugby, impassioned forward play and a complete desire to win you that you could ever have the privilege to see. Unfortunately for us kiwis, it doesn't feel quite like a privilege the day after - but maybe in 10 years or so, who knows...
The bastards! Why didn't they pick someone else to play the game of their lives against!
They steamrolled our forwards in the 2nd half. Absolutely whipped them. Faster to the ball and stronger over the advantage line was the story of the game. Poor old Byron Kelleher had a shit of a game behind a pack that weren't delivering the goods. Mehrts struggled for the same reasons, though I had the feeling he wasn't 100% confident in his knee. In fact, the whole back line, excepting Mr Lomu were average at best, but made so by the French running game which we all know they can produce, but secretly hoped they wouldn't. Bastards again!
Lamaison was outstanding... Not bad for a fellow who didn't even make the original French World Cup Squad... Bastard again! Why didn't they leave him at home. But then, Dominici was also fantastic. The whole team was... The French back line achieved what I would have put money on them not being able to do in a million years... They shut down the All Black backs on attack, and stood them up on defence... easily! Wilson was constantly scrambling and often out of position, and twice too slow! Umaga had a complete shocker under pressure. Deft chip kicks on attack and defensive punts behind Lomu worked a treat for them.
I guess the question we are all asking ourselves is how the bloody hell we let a 24-10 lead convert itself to a 31-43 spanking... An All Black side should be able to defend a lead like that for 30 minutes. No team should be able to spark themselves into a comeback like that after being demolished by Lomu for the second time in a game. All I can say is terrible tactics... If that was the English out there they would have got the ball, given it to the forwards and said "sod off Frogs, game over - we aren't giving you the bloody ball back"! Instead we say our backs throwing it about out wide and the French just said "thanks boys", in French of course.
Someone else who should get a mention is Jim Fleming. What an outstanding tournament he has had. And another top reffing performance today - I hardly noticed he was there in the 2nd half. Shout yourself a single malt Jim!
Now the question is whether the French can turn on a display like that two games in a row. I have given up writing them off, so lets just wait till after the final! The Aussies do now however have some useful foresight into how the French will play. something I don't think Mr Potatohead Hart put a lot of thought into...
A final question:
How is it that the French can analyse video coverage of the All Black game against Australia where they beat us soundly at Stadium Australia, identify weaknesses exploited by the Aussies, and find the holes still gaping four months later...?
Oh well, it's always more heartening to see the team that beat you go on to win the Cup, so, GO THE FRENCH! :-)