Planet Rugby

All Blacks pushed hard in Paris

09th November 2013 21:50

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New Zealand Charles Piutau R celebrates with Kieran Read after scoring v France

Top class: Charles Piutau

The All Blacks took a step closer to completing their quest to finish the year unbeaten with a 26-19 victory over France on Saturday.

The result, New Zealand's fourth win over les Bleus in 2013, leaves Steve Hansen's team with 12 wins from 12 starts ahead of next weekend's game against England, but they were made to work very hard at the Stade de France.

When the dust had settled, the tourists had outscored France two tries to one in a gripping encounter on the outskirts of the French capital.

Against all expectations, France were level with the world champions at 9-all at half-time. In fact, les Bleus could very easily have been ahead had it not been for Morgan Parra missing two relatively easy penalty kicks.

But, true to form, New Zealand raised the tempo in the second-half and made scoring two excellent tries - via Charlie Piutau and Kieran Read - look easy.

France replied through a top-quality try from full-back Brice Dulin and finished the game camped on the New Zealand line.

In the end, the surface at the Stade de France let the home team down as it disintegrated, preventing the dominant French scrum from pushing on for a draw-saving try, that certainly looked on.

Having survived a close shave in the second minute - when Cory Jane came within inches of scoring a try - France grew in confidence as the first-half unfolded.

Parra traded three-pointers with Dan Carter as the French paid the All Blacks' reputation very little respect and progressively took the game to their visitors, finishing the half camped in New Zealand territory.

The trend continued after the break as Parra briefly put France in front only to see Carter reply.

In typical fashion, the All Blacks would score the first try from inside their own half to punish a poor French kick as Charlie Piutau chased down Ben Smith's kick ahead, showing dazzling pace and some decent soccer skills to pounce.

The second came just after the hour mark as Piutau's fantastic offload out the back of his hand was collected by Kieran Read, who cruised home.

The result looked settled but France hit back almost immediately as Dulin finished off a slick backline move that saw Rémi Talès and Gael Fickou combine.

It was all-France in the closing stages, but after series of reset scrums five metres short of the New Zeland line, referee Jaco Peyper spotted Damien Chouly use his hand in the scrum, ending the hosts' hopes of forcing a shock result.

Man of the match: A number of candidates from both sides but we couldn't look past Charlie Piutau, who scored one try and brilliantly created New Zealand's other.

Moment of the match: France managed to get over the whitewash in the dying moments but the ball was obscured for the view of the cameras. Ask any Frenchman, and he'll tell you they deserved a draw.

The scorers:

For France:
Try: Dulin
Con: Parra
Pens: Parra 4

For New Zealand:
Tries: Piutau, Read
Cons: Carter, Cruden
Pens: Carter 4

France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Maxime Médard 10 Rémi Talès, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Wenceslas Lauret, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Pascal Papé, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Yannick Forestier.
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 20 Antonie Claassen, 21 Jean-Marc Doussain, 22 Camille Lopez, 23 Gael Fickou.

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Charlie Piutau, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Ryan Crotty.

Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Television match official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)

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