RWC: Clinical All Blacks out muscle Les Bleus

Maybe the strength of feeling they showed in the Haka was a warning that New Zealand had turned up for this game and would not be denied by the French. Certainly by the final whistle the All Blacks had quelled their doubters and provided a display of no little flare, muscle and style in front of a 60,000+ full house in Eden Park Auckland.

For the first 10 minutes France tore up the script and took the game to New Zealand. But they could not cross the line and in fact a missed drop goal was as near as they got. How different it was for the All Blacks, first sortie into the France 22 and a burst up the middle by Nonu created the space for Adam Thomson to score out wide. Carter missed the conversion 5-0. from this moment the shape of the game changed and the French lost the battle of the breakdown as well as the tight contest. So it was that from a line-out a lovely pop pass from Weepu put Cory Jane through the hole and his quick feet broke the last line of defence allowing him to score near the posts. Carter made the conversion 14 minutes 12-0. The play was all coming from the Kiwis and the third try came up on 21 minutes as a sweet Dan Carter break was finished of by Isreal Dagg, Carter adding the extras 19-0. The half was coming to an end when a penalty was conceded by New Zealand and the reliable boot of Yachvili gave France a toe hold at 19-3 half-time. The 1st half stats showed the All Blacks shading territory and possession, but the score sheet shows they were more clinical in their use of the possession.

The second period and almost from the kick-off Isreal Dagg took his second try thanks to a bust and offload to Carter from Sonny Bill and final pass from Carter to Dagg. Carter added the extras again and the score moved on to 26-3. At this stage in the game Les Bleus looked like they would implode as they were out-muscled in the scrum and loose play. However the Kiwis still took no chances as Richie McCaw in his 100th game opted for points from a penalty and Dan Carter slotted to take the score to 29-3 on 47 minutes. The one cause for concern for New Zealand was the lack of a true number 8 and on 52 minutes having won the hook, pressure on Mccaw yet again saw the Blacks conced a penalty. France did not capitalise yet again. However on 54 minutes Maxime Mermoz intercepted a Carter long pass and went in with Yachvili converting to bring the score to 29-10.

55 minutes and New Zealand made several changes, this could have been the reason that France now started to win some of the contact and tight exchanges. Though Servat coming on could also have been a big reason. Whatever it was all a lot tighter and so when the Blacks got into the French 22 Carter opted for 3 points and a drop goal 64 minutes 32-10 and perhaps Kiwi nerves had now settled. But Trinh-Duc was now on the field and following a scrum penalty and it seemed whilst the referee was talking to the All Blacks front row France took the quick tap and Trinh-Duc dived over. Again Yachvili converted 32-17. This passage of play galvanised New Zealand and from the kick-off the ball was re-gathered and quick hands saw it travel to Sonny Bill who scored out wide. Carter could not add the extras so at 77 minutes we were at 37-17 and the clock ran down to leave us with the final score of:

New Zealand 37
Tries: Thomson, Jane, Dagg 2, SB Williams
Cons: Carter 3
Pen: Carter
Drop-goal: Carter

France 17
Tries: Mermoz, Trinh-Duc
Cons: Yachvili 2
Pen: Yachvili