I was at Twickenham for the NZ semi-final and for most of the match it reminded me of the 2011 final against France – terrified we would lose.
It wasn’t the best game in the world to watch. I grew to hate the referee as he dished out nine penalties almost non-stop to the All Blacks in the first half.
The Springboks never got ahead by more than seven points, so was always optimistic NZ would come through, but the South African defence and tackling was very impressive first half – so much so NZ started kicking as they couldn’t break through most of the time.
Dan Carter’s conversion seemed the turning point. To only be two points behind had us within striking, and then the second try. But it was only around minute 78 when the Springboks were nowhere near the halfway line, that the All Black supporters in the crowd started to relax. The nightmare of scoring two tries to zero but losing against six penalties and a possible drop goal receded. And much celebrating and just relief at half time.
The All Blacks performance didn’t seem that impressive at the time, as the scoreline dominates your thinking, but looking at the match stats does indicate that it was a strong, even if undisciplined, performance:
- 387 metres vs 149 metres
- 20 defenders beaten vs three
- Only three missed tackles vs 20
- 96% rucks won vs 90%
- 100% lineouts won vs 77%
- However 14 penalties vs six
Did I mention how much I disliked the referee again?
Great to see the All Blacks make the final – the first time since 1995 away from home.. In fact we have never won the Rugby World Cup away from NZ, so this is NZ’s chance to do so. I’m hoping Argentina beats Australia of course. In a NZ vs Argentina final we’ll have the entire English crowd cheering for us
So was great to see an All Black victory, but also to see them play at Twickenham. They have moved the entry gates to include the area next to the stadium so there was great pre-game hospitality with tents and entertainment.
Impressed with the overall organisation. Getting to the game was a tube to Richmond, then shuttle to a few hundred metres from the stadium. Hundreds of volunteers to guide you. Did get soaked after the game, but by then didn’t care. And the tube trip back into London saw great conversations between All Blacks and Springbok supporters – no sore feelings, lots of congratulating both teams, and lots of hatred for the referee from both lots of supporters!
Can’t wait for the final!