The 8-point buffer would not last long, as France struck back with their first try of the match five minutes later when captain Thierry Dusautoir reached over the try line. Francois Trinh-Duc slotted the conversion right down the middle and the All Blacks’ lead was slimmed down to 8-7.
France came within one meter of scoring another try in the 64th minute, but the defense of the All Blacks held, much to the delight of the crowd. “We couldn’t have been under more pressure at times but we stuck to our guns and got there in the end,” McCaw said after the match.
With a one-point lead and time their only ally, the All Blacks went into defense mode, kicking the ball to relieve some of the pressure at their end. Despite possessing the ball for most of the second half, France was unable to score a second try and the All Blacks walked away victorious.
New Zealand coach Graham Henry, who was almost relieved of his post after a quarterfinal exit four years ago, said after the match, “I’m just delighted for the boys. We’ve been the top team in the world for a long time, so it’s been a long time coming.”
Captain Richie McCaw was finally able to put his hands on the Webb Ellis Cup, something he refused to do before winning it. “I don’t think you should touch it till you’ve earned it,” he said on the All Blacks website before the match. After his gutsy performance in this year’s final, he most certainly earned it.Follow Kristen on Twitter @Call2theBullpen