All Blacks fry French resistance

Dane Coles crossed for one of five tries as the All Blacks streaked to a 38-18 victory over France in Paris on Saturday.

The world champions raced to a 31-5 halftime lead and, though France responded with zest in the second stanza, their fightback fell well short.

Tries from Coles, Ryan Crotty, Sam Cane and a Waisake Naholo brace proved too much for Les Bleus who added a penalty try to Teddy Thomas’ touchdown.

It was a scrappy affair with plenty of knock-ons and a lot of time was consumed with scrum resets.

The All Blacks blew the French out of the water in the first-half. Les Bleus had a golden spell during the opening thirteen minutes of the second half in which they made the scoreline slightly more respectable.

The All Blacks drew first blood courtesy of Coles who ran the perfect line to latch on to Beauden Barrett’s pass to scythe through the French line of defence to dot down. Barrett added the extras.

Barrett added a penalty on the 16-minute mark after les Bleus were penalised for holding on to extend the visitors’ lead to 10-0.

The All Blacks showed good ball retention keeping the ball through the phases in a move that flowed from left to right before the French defence was finally breached when Barrett’s long pass found Naholo out on the right wing for an easy run-in. Barrett slotted the conversion as the All Blacks took a 17-0 lead after 23 minutes.

Soon after, les Bleus scored a wonderful try with textbook expansive rugby as the ball went through the hands of the French backline seamlessly for Thomas to dive over in the right-hand corner.

The first-half was plagued by stoppages due to the scrum collapsing and Rabah Slimani paid the price when he received a yellow-card for repeatedly infringing in this regard.

The All Blacks duly capitalised on their numerical advantage when Crotty ran through to collect an expertly weighted grubber kick through from Sonny Bill Williams.

Soon after, the visitors further asserted their dominance after superb handling and interplay between forwards and backs saw Cane break the line to go over as the All Blacks took a 31-5 lead in to the interval.

The first action of the second half was a Belleau penalty to make the scoreline look slightly more respectable. Soon afterwards, a Belleau cross-kick after Dupont had brilliantly made the initial break was punched away by Sonny Bill Williams over the dead ball line; an action for which the All Black centre was yellow-carded and a penalty try awarded.

Belleau added a penalty to make it 31-18. The All Blacks put the game beyond doubt when Naholo grabbed his brace after good patient build-up once again. Barrett converted on the final whistle to give the All Blacks a 38-18 victory.

The scorers:

For France:
Try: Thomas, Penalty Try
Pens: Belleau 2
Yellow Card: Slimani

For New Zealand:
Tries: Coles, Naholo 2, Crotty, Cane
Cons: Barrett 4
Pen: Barrett
Yellow Card: Williams

The teams:

France: 15 Nans Ducuing, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Mathieu Bastareaud, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Kevin Gourdon, 6 Judicael Cancoriet, 5 Paul Gabrillagues, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado (c), 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: 16 Clement Maynadier, 17 Raphael Chaume, 18 Daniel Kotze, 19 Paul Jedrasiak, 20 Anthony Jelonch, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Francois Trinh-Duc, 23 Damian Penaud

New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England), Tom Foley (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

- All Out Rugby Staff Writer