World Cup Preview: The Final

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Mermoz2

Six weeks of world class rugby have led us to the grand finale in Auckland on Sunday evening. Throughout the tournament we have witnessed so much: 2nd and 3rd tier nations closing the gap on the top 8, several upsets, several war dances, a lot of wind, a lot of rain, a lot of noise, a lot of "going out", great crowds, complaints about the ball, much controversy, intense physicality, a few injuries and some wonderful rugby!

What remains?...Just the small matter of deciding on a winner then! Here's how the finalists match up...

França

Several rugby purists might well argue that, after having lost twice already on their way to the World Cup Final, France do not deserve to be there when compared to a team like Wales who have played great rugby from start to finish. Still, as most astute rugby coaches would tell you, the best teams are those that can find a way to win when not at the top of their game. France's most impressive performance yet probably came against the old rivals (England) in which they were aggressive in attack, kicked cleverly and had the determination of a team unwilling to be beaten at any cost.

France will need to summon this passion and more to defeat the number one team in the world and arguably the most impressive at the tournament so far. They will rely heavily on the kicking boots of their 9 and 10 who lead the competition in penalties having successfully converted 17 so far.

PUMA's Maxime Mermoz and Francois Trinh-Duc both feature in France's 22-man squad for the final and will be key to the French attacking threat. Good luck guys!

Nova Zelândia

The tournament favourites were always expected to reach the final on home soil, but their World Cup record is nowhere near as impressive as it should be and is a constant bugbear for the rugby fanatics in New Zealand. Allied to this, their record against France is not stellar in the knockout stages (defeated in 1999 and most recently 2007).

New Zealand will look to continue the outstanding form they have displayed in the competition so far that has seen them rack up an impressive points tally of 293 with 39 tries.

Can the All Blacks claim their second World Cup victory on Sunday?

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