Yes, you did read correctly! I am a week early, but I am 100 percent sure that the All Blacks will win the World Cup for the first time since 1987 when they also played the French on home soil. The French were extremely lucky to get past a 14-man Welsh team who really played their hearts out. The Dragons were dealt a very cruel blow when their captain, Sam Warburton, was shown a red card in the 10th minute of the game.
I know that the rules state that you are not allowed to "spear tackle" an opponent, but I really don't think the incident deserved a red card. In his defence, he let Vincent Clerk go once he was in the air and he didn't follow through by putting his shoulder into him when he hit the ground. I really think that the referee and the touch judge should have spoken about it and shown him a yellow card. That very incident had a major bearing on the outcome of the game and the French held on to win by one point.
Playing their hearts out
You have to give the Welsh team credit for not giving up and playing their hearts out to make up for the one-man deficit. They had two opportunities to win the game and came agonisingly close on two occasions. The first opportunity came after a brilliant individual try by the Welsh scrum-half, Mike Phillips. He left Stephen Jones, the reserve Welsh fly-half, with a very kickable conversion that he missed. The score remained at 9-8 in favour of the French.
Four minutes from time, the Welsh were awarded a penalty on the halfway line and up stepped Leigh Halfpenny, who has been nothing short of brilliant this whole World Cup. His kick was dead on line and on its way to winning the game for the Dragons. Unfortunately for him, it dipped under the crossbar and the French hung on to win the game. The Welsh players were shattered after the game, and understandably so. This was their opportunity to make history and it was taken away from them by one decision.
A better game and a better final
The other semi-final between Australia and New Zealand was a better game and probably would have been a better final. Both teams showed why they are number one and number two in the world, but it was New Zealand who came out of the blocks at a pace that Husain Bolt can only dream of. Before the Australians could open their eyes they were 8-0 down as the All Blacks piled on the pressure. Israel Dagg showed a clean pair of heels to the Australian defence and off-loaded brilliantly to M'ao Nonu for the only try of the match. The New Zealanders played like men possessed and I have my doubts as to whether we would have beaten them on the day.
So history is repeated as New Zealand face France in the World Cup final, as it was 24 years ago. If my memory serves me correctly it was a comfortable win for the All Blacks and I am sure this game will deliver the same result. I will be very happy for the All Blacks and the New Zealand nation as a whole, as they have waited a very long time for this victory. I will also be happy for Richie McCaw who is a great guy and a true legend of the game.