Every 12 years, the French team reaches the final. In 1987, the lost to New Zealand. In 1999, they lost to Australia. 2011, and it’s the Finals again, far from deservedly, edging out a brave and undermanned Welsh side 9-8, having to thank the inaccurate Welsh kickers mostly.
Morgan Parra? He didn’t miss. Three penalties, all of them on target. Either than that? The usual line-out specialism, the one that disturbed England so much in the quarter finals. No intention of taking the game at the Welsh. Just kicking and playing for territory, despite having a man advantage for over an hour.
The Welsh? They’ll lament James Hook’s misses from comfortable range and angles in the first half, Stephen Jones missing the conversion and Leigh Halfpenny’s penalty going just under the bar. Oh, and of course, captain Sam Warburton getting sent off for his dangerous tackle.
France never really impressed through this tournament, and Lievermont’s side didn’t impress at Eden Park again, doing just enough to win. The sport deserves a better champion, and the Northern Hemisphere deserve a better representative in the final. This style of rugby didn’t work against the All Blacks in the group stage, and taking a wild guess before the Wallabies clash with All Blacks tomorrow, won’t work in the final.
Apparently badly coached, disorganized, relying on luck and fluke chances. Wales moved the ball around well with 15 men, and managed to show some pleasing moves with less, mostly involving Mike Phillips, George North and Jamie Roberts. Mike Phillips’ fantastic try, which began with a very good Stephen Jones punt, ended in a well deserved try after 10 minutes of both teams just punting to each other. Alas, Jones’ shot hit the post, bouncing wide.
Grabbing a 6-3 lead just before half time, one expected the French to be more fired up entering the second half. The side hardly spent any time in the dressing room (maybe because they hate their coach) and ran laps on the pitch, waiting for the Welsh to take the field. No fire, no passion. Solid defending? Yes. Yachvili and Parra did try and move the chains a bit, but just a bit. Hardly and joining from the wingers or Medard, who’s decision making remains awful.
For Wales, it was a tragic, but rather brave way to end the tournament. Yes, they have the 3-4 match, but who cares about that? They showed promise, grit, composure and discipline (after the sending off), but you gotta take the chances you get. Awful Drop Kick attempts and off the mark penalties doomed them to finish just short of a dream, first, World Cup final.