Bring it on!
The relief around New Zealand is palpable after the semi-final victory over Australia. Most people feel the All Blacks are in a great position now. The rest of the world may have seen the All Blacks as comfortable favorites before the competition started, but believe me there was plenty of nervousness here.
Wales really received a body blow when their captain and best player was sent off the pitch with a red card. In the cold light of day, it was a red card offence. In real time it looked very bad. But sometimes the punishment does not fit the crime. Unfortunately for Wales, there was no way back. As coach Warren Gatland said, it was hard enough being given a red card, but in Sam Warburton they took away his best player.
They would have beaten France with 15 men. Even with 14, they nearly did. It was a shame for the game and it has left many in a state of shock. We all feel like we’ve been deprived of the final chapter of the great story that has been Wales in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
On the other hand there can be no reservations about New Zealand’s marvelous performance against Australia – their best for a long time.
The two best teams in the world, the two best No 7s in the world in David Pocock and Richie McCaw, and two teams with great backs who were always looking to run the ball. It was exciting to watch.
In this match, New Zealand understood the value of keeping the scoreboard ticking over. They looked patient. They wanted to score tries, but they took the points however they came.
To be fair, Australia really ran out of petrol. There is no doubt that their match against South Africa really took a lot out of them. The All Blacks were able to absorb everything the Wallabies threw at them.
Now on to the final
The All Blacks can enjoy their victory and look ahead to the final. They were subdued after the win on Sunday. They didn’t get carried away – that’s a good sign because there is still a job to do.
The All Blacks have the momentum of a nation of four million people behind them, so nothing can go wrong, right? The All Blacks are the obvious favorite, and it’s safe to assume that most people expect them to show up and win. But the All Blacks know only too well that anything can happen when you play the French.
There is a tidal wave of support here in the Kiwi Nation. But now all we can do is wait and hope.