Brilliant lineout move sets up Woodcock's try
Updated: October 23, 2011, 09:02
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AUCKLAND, New Zealand(AP) Rugby teams often say they keep something up their sleeve for big moments. New Zealand saved a beauty for the Rugby World Cup final on Sunday.
The All Blacks' only try in the 8-7 victory came from a brilliant lineout move just meters from the France tryline. It led to prop Tony Woodcock rushing through a chasm in the defense and diving over in the 15th minute for the first points of the heartstopping match.
Piri Weepu's penalty touchfinder to the right corner set up the lineout in which New Zealand fooled France.
Front jumper Sam Whitelock and his lifters rushed forward leaving a huge gap behind them. Keven Mealamu threw over them to flanker Jerome Kaino, who tapped down in front of him to Woodcock charging through the hole.
The burly loosehead prop easily brushed aside France scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili and scored.
"We put that one up our sleeve and saved it for the final, so I'm pretty happy it came off,'' Woodcock said. "It was definitely a team effort.
"We pulled it out against the Aussies and got a try there as well.''
He was referring to a test against Australia in 2008, also on Eden Park, where Woodcock scored his second try in two minutes off a similar lineout move, that time taking the tap down from Ali Williams, who also played on Sunday.
Woodcock, the All Blacks' most capped prop with 83 tests, was one of four in the team who played in the 2007 quarterfinal defeat to France, beside fellow forwards Richie McCaw, Ali Williams and Andrew Hore.
Thoughts of 2007 came to Woodcock as the All Blacks were put under immense pressure from France in the last quarter while clinging to a one-point lead. The thought of giving up a penalty that might cost them the final drove the All Blacks to make every tackle.
"We knew the French would turn up and it would be a close game,'' he said. "Probably didn't want it to be that tight, but it was gutsy from everyone. When you have to work hard for things, it makes it even more special.
"We just defended and defended and just held them out. At times we were stretched, but I guess the heart of the guys came through.
"Throughout that last 20 minutes, I definitely had thoughts of what happened in 2007 running through my head. It was just desperation, really.''
The 30-year-old Woodcock suffered a foot ligament strain that sidelined him for three months this year. The All Blacks coaches sweated on his recovery, and he was fit just in time to play the last two Tri-Nations matches to prove his readiness before the World Cup.
His value was underlined by his starting every match in his second World Cup, and scoring his first try in the competition. It was also his eighth test try, and first against anyone other than Australia or South Africa.
Now he can call himself a World Cup winner.
"It hasn't sunk in. It's unbelievable,'' he said. "Especially after 2007, what happened there and being involved in that, I'm just so rapt to get the win.
"I guess in the next few days it will sink in that we won a World Cup.''