New Zealand ended their 24 year wait for a second World Cup title after holding off a spirited second-half performance from France to claim a 8-7 victory at Eden Park.
Victory ensured that the All Blacks win the Webb Ellis Trophy for the first time since beating France 29-9 in the inaugural final, also at Eden Park.
But the tension in what was the lowest scoring ever final, beating the 18 points managed by Australia and England in the Wallabies’ 12-6 win in 1991, was maintained right until the final whistle
New Zealand turned round 5-0 in front after scoring the only points of the first half through a 15th minute try from prop Tony Woodcock off a well-worked lineout move.
But scrum-half Piri Weepu, who was replaced in the second half, missed three goal-kicks that, had they all gone over, would have given the All Blacks eight more points.
A penalty early in the second half from replacement fly-half Stephen Donald made it 8-0 to New Zealand, who in the pool phase had beaten France 37-17.
But sustained France pressure led to a try for captain Thierry Dusautoir, converted by Francois Trinh-Duc, on after the visitors had also lost their fly-half, Morgan Parra, through injury, cut New Zealand’s lead to 8-7.
Trinh-Duc, with 15 minutes left, missed a penalty that would have given France — who also lost to Tonga in the pool phase — the lead.
But excellent defence ensured the All Blacks held on to the delight of a crowd of more than 61,000 and a rugby-obsessed nation.