RUGBY WORLD CUP FINAL – NEW ZEALAND vs FRANCE
Eden Park, Auckland, Sunday 23st Oct 9pm (NZT)
Head-to-head: Played 50, New Zealand 37, France 12, Drawn 1
Last meeting: New Zealand 37 beat France 17 at Eden Park, Auckland, 2011
Last meeting at a World Cup: New Zealand 37 beat France 17 at Eden Park, Auckland, 2011
THE FRENCH PERSPECTIVE
Team news: France coach Marc Lievremont named his team on Tuesday so there was little chance for the media to speculate as to who would be lining up in the final for the French. The team is as most expected, an unchanged line-up and the same team that has started both matches for Les Bleus so far. Lievremont did make changes three changes to the bench which was named on Friday.
Team: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Aurélien Rougerie, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Morgan Parra, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Imanol Harinordoquy, 7 Julien Bonnaire, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (capt), 5 Lionel Nallet, 4 Pascal Papé, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 William Servat, 1 Jean-Baptiste Poux.
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Fabien Barcella, 18 Julien Pierre, 19 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 20 Jean-Marc Doussain, 21 François Trinh-Duc, 22 Damien Traille.
Form: France have been lucky to make the final after failing to put a 14 man Welsh team to the sword. Wales should have won the semi but Sam Warburton was sent off the field and the match never really got going as the French battled away hard and only came away with a one point victory. Still, France have made the final and any team that can get through to the big game deserve the chance of coming away with the biggest prize in rugby.
Why they will lose: France just do not seem to have the backline continuity they have had in the past and they could struggle to get anything going against an organised New Zealand outfit. Previous backlines had the ability to turn nothing into something, but it is hard to see the current players doing that. Maxime Médard is the one exception, and he will have to come up big to spark his team into action.
Why they will win: The French pack has been simply outstanding the past two weeks. Pascal Papé has been a colossal in the line-outs and Imanol Harinordoquy, Julien Bonnaire and most of all Thierry Dusautoir have tackled themselves to a standstill. New Zealand’s Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read and Richie McCaw are three players that can hurt you in various ways and have formed a potent partnership, a win to the Harinordoquy, Bonnaire and Dusautoir will give the French a vital edge.
By Alex Barlow-Smith