France v All Blacks - Match Review - Green and Gold Rugby
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France v All Blacks – Match Review

France v All Blacks – Match Review

A jaded-looking All Blacks have held off a brave French XV to secure a 24-19 win in Paris.

First Half

Penalised from the kick-off, the All Blacks were forced to defend early on and emerged unscathed thanks to two Matt Todd steals and a relieving penalty. From the resulting lineout a Beauden Barrett kick-pass found Julian Savea on the left wing, who fed Israel Dagg running an inside line for the opening try. Barrett converted for 7-0 after seven minutes.

A Virimi Vakatawa break had France hot on attack again, but Camille Lopez was bundled out in the corner and the All Blacks were able to clear from the lineout. Charles Ollivon then made good ground up the middle but another turnover, this time from Kieran Read, killed their momentum. A fifth French line break ended with a Kevin Gourdon knock-on. Referee Wayne Barnes found France at fault when the scrum collapsed, allowing the All Blacks to again exit their 22.

France conceded a breakdown penalty in front and 35 metres out, Barrett converting for 10-0 after 17 minutes. France spent the next several minutes on attack but each time things looked promising an error was made. A 40 metre Maxime Machenaud penalty after 25 minutes got them on the board at 3-10.

A sweeping French backline move again came undone at the end, Vakarawa unable to find Wesley Fofana who would surely have scored even with Anton Lienert-Brown being (perhaps prematurely) all over him. Machenaud kicked a second penalty just before the clock rolled past 40 minutes, the intervening 15 minutes having featured plenty of endeavour from both teams that neither were able to convert into points.

Half Time: New Zealand 10-6 France

Second half

Another sweeping attack from the French looked certain to result in a try and it did … to Beauden Barrett after he intercepted a Machenaud ruck clearance and ran 90 metres. The conversion made it 17-6 with 43 minutes gone. Machenaud was subbed off shortly after.

A ghosting run from Brice Dulin gave France good field position which yielded a penalty that replacement halfback Baptiste Serin had no problems in converting for 17-9 with 30 minutes remaining. A Lienert-Brown infringement from the kickoff allowed France back onto attack but they again turned the ball over and were then penalised to once again let New Zealand off the hook.

A Barrett kick-pass found Waisake Naholo on the right wing and set up a series of rucks inside the French 22. Awarded a penalty 15 metres out the All Blacks took the lineout option, replacement prop Charlie Faumuina wrapping around to score under the posts, 24-9 after the conversion.

The French went desperately close to scoring almost immediately but again were denied by good defence and poor handling. A monster scrum, however, won them a penalty that Serin took quickly and flipped a backwards pass to Louis Picamoles to score adjacent to the posts. Serin converted for 24-16 with 20 to go.

A botched French lineout allowed replacement 5/8 Aaron Cruden to send a kick-pass in Naholo’s direction that the French defender knocked on. A subsequent breakdown penalty saw New Zealand turn down a gift three points in favour of a scrum. A try looked on but France earned a relieving penalty at the breakdown to survive.

Back on attack, France were awarded a rather harsh penalty when replacement halfback Aaron Smith collided with his own player while trying to retrieve a fumble. Barnes ruled obstruction and Serin was again on target for 24-19 going into the last five minutes.

There was no fairytale ending for France, however, the All Blacks drilling the restart into the corner and, after Serin made the strange decision to gift them a lineout on the 22, running the clock down with a series of carries before Aaron Smith hoofed it into the stands.

The Wrap

I said in the preview that “It’s going to take time for France to cast off the four years of stodge that was Philippe Saint-Andre’s coaching tenure: the intent is there but the execution isn’t quite”. This proved to be the case, France having the better of possession and territory but unable to convert that advantage into points. The All Blacks, though, took every opportunity (bar one) presented and while never anywhere near their best came away with the points and ultimately the win.

THE GAME CHANGER

Barrett’s intercept try. France looked certain to score and take at least a one point lead but instead found themselves trailing by eight. To their credit there was no dropping off in their commitment but it was the decisive score of the match.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Beauden Barrett. Set up the Dagg try with a deft kick-pass, scored the decisive try of the match and generally “ran the cutter” well, if not as well as we’ve become used to.

The Details

France – 19

Try: L. Picamoles

Conversion: B. Serin

Penalties: M. Machenaud (2); B. Serin 2

All Blacks – 24

Tries: I. Dagg, B. Barrett, C. Faumuina

Conversions: B. Barrett (3)

Penalty: B. Barrett

Match Stats

Full match stats at New Zealand Herald 

  • Genius’s Have Rights

    Thanks Brent for some insightful work. A sound All Blacks performance and for the 2nd week, some hard working defense coupled with their ability to seize on opportunities in attack were the basis for the victory. Learning to once again play with 50%+ of the possession and territory (as was evidenced in the RC) are certain to be strategies for the coaching staff in the off-season.

    The intensity of the tour matches in Chicago, Dublin and Paris will be of enormous benefit for the critical Lions tour next year. It was needed.

    Terrific to once again see a spirited, skilled French side. Just like Ireland, they have had an important 2 weeks ahead of what promises to be an outstanding 6 Nations championship. Further progress must be achieved to validate their recent efforts. The game is better when they are good.

    Credit to Wayne Barnes who is a very accomplished referee. He gets a lot more right than he gets wrong and works hard to contribute to a good contest.

    A final word belongs to Beauden Barrett. He is a gifted rugby player skilled in so many aspects of the game. He has had an outstanding season and deserving of the accolades that have come his way.

    • Stin

      Shame we didn’t have Barnes in Dublin. On the field but also as touch judge and tmo.

      • Genius’s Have Rights

        Great point! Barnes would have ensured Ireland didn’t spill those passes in those crucial attacking situations.

  • Wallabrumby

    Maybe Australia should develop a dark kit so then the All Blacks will have to play in the white kit when away.. A clever tactic by the French :)
    Wallabies need all the help they can get!

  • Keith Butler

    The French definitely stepped up from last weeks performance against the Aussies. Apart from their hooker thought their reserve front row was stronger. The new scrum half Serin looks like he could be a bit special down the track.. Looking forward to the 6Ns. A three way tussle between the Irish, French and English. I reckon the Paddies might just take it with home advantage for the French and English games.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      They always do manage to step up against us. Hard work but a good win for all that

    • Brent Craig

      I’m fully expecting Serin to be their starting 10 by the end of the 6N…….

  • Patrick

    I think that for all the good work on their skills and with the ball in hand, with a bit more old-fashioned French scrum ruthlessness the French could have surely almost scrummed NZ out of the game?

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