Planet Rugby

France push All Blacks close

08th June 2013 10:17

Share:

Ben Simth All Blacks break first test New Zealand France 2013

Created a try: Ben Smith

Once again New Zealand were made to work very hard to get the better of France at Eden Park, winning 23-13 in an entertaining clash on Saturday.

In the first game between these sides since the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final at the same venue, the All Blacks outscored their visitors two tries to one but were pushed all the way by a French side showing a marked improvement on their woeful Six Nations campaign.

New Zealand led 17-10 at the interval thanks to tries from Aaron Smith and Sam Cane after France had taken the early lead via a Wesley Fofana score.

There was very little to choose between the old rivals but a series of scrum penalties against France proved influential as they killed off a number of promising attacking opportunities for Philippe Saint-André's men.

The result sees the All Blacks take a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series but with the tourists set to be reinforced by players who took part in the recent Top 14 Final, the next fortnight promises to be intriguing.

France drew first blood when Florian Fritz sliced through in midfield and offloaded to his centre partner Fofana, who raced home.

Maxime Machenaud added the extras and the visitors held a 7-0 advantage until the end of the opening quarter when Aaron Cruden landed his first penalty.

The All Blacks scored their first try on the half-hour mark after Ben Smith burst clear before finding his namesake Aaron up in support.

Cruden's conversion put New Zealand in front but Machenaud replied to level the scores with half time looming large.

Ma'a Nonu ensured that the hosts would head into the tunnel in the lead however as he beat Camille Lopez to set up a try for Cane with skipper Kieran Read proving the link.

Cruden's conversion was the final act of an evenly-contested and entertaining first half.

With Machenaud off injured, Lopez took over the French kicking duties and narrowed the deficit early in the second period.

Referee Wayne Barnes was the centre of controversy before kick-off as the French management and press found it highly irregular that the Englishman was staying at the same hotel as the hosts and Bleus skipper Thierry Dusautoir was fuming when the visitors scrum was penalised while camped on the Kiwi tryline.

Cruden restored the seven-point gap on the hour mark before the All Blacks were given a massive let off when Louis Picamoles knocked-on in front of an open tryline.

The pattern of missed chances - from both sides - continued until the final hooter with Cruden's third penalty securing the win.

Man of the match: A tough call to make. Louis Picamoles, Florian Fritz and Adrien Plante all did well for France while Ma'a Nonu made a welcome return to form in the black 12 jersey. But we'll go for Ben Smith, who not only created New Zealand's first try, but was rock solid at the back as the French looked to get the ball behind the Kiwi pack.

Moment of the match: The difference between the sides proved to be Sam Cane's try on the stroke of half time after Nonu beat Dusautoir.

Villain of the match: The scrums were a mess, but no nasty stuff to report.

The scorers:

For New Zealand:
Tries: A. Smith, Cane
Cons: Cruden 2
Pens: Cruden 3

For France:
Try: Fofana
Con: Machenaud
Pens: Machenaud, Lopez

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Ben Afeaki, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Rene Ranger.

France: 15 Yoann Huget, 14 Adrien Plante, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Maxime Medard, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Daniel Kotze, 19 Akexandre Flanquart, 20 Yannick Nyanga, 21 Jean-Marc Doussain, 22 Frederic Michalak, 23 Maxime Mermoz.

Venue: Eden Park, Aukland
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London IrishNorthampton vs London Irish Preview
Newcastle vs SaracensNewcastle vs Saracens Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Heineken Cup
Saturday , April 26
Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne15:40
More Heineken Cup fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Preview
Newport Gwent D'gons vs OspreysNewport Gwent D
Saturday , April 26
Glasgow vs Edinburgh19:05
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Amlin Challenge Cup
Friday , April 25
Northampton vs Harlequins20:00
More Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 25
Blues vs Waratahs17:35
Brumbies vs Chiefs17:40
Sharks vs Highlanders19:10
Saturday , April 26
Hurricanes vs Reds19:35
Western Force vs Bulls17:40
Cheetahs vs Stormers17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , April 19
Bath 32 - 20 WorcesterBath vs Worcester Report
Exeter 12 - 55 SaleExeter vs Sale Report
Wasps 38 - 30 GloucesterWasps vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Zebre 26 - 13 EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Report
Connacht 23 - 32 MunsterConnacht vs Munster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Oyonnax 19 - 19 ToulouseOyonnax vs Toulouse Report
Perpignan 31 - 46 ToulonPerpignan vs Toulon Report
Racing Metro Paris 22 - 6 Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Stade Francais 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Grenoble 21 - 21 Bayonne
Biarritz 19 - 13 Brive
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
Stormers 18 - 3 LionsStormers vs Lions Report
Sharks 19 - 8 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
Waratahs 19 - 12 BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins 24 - 20 LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Leinster 62 - 7 Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Report
Glasgow 27 - 9 UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Castres 22 - 15 MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 13
Saracens 28 - 24 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Irish 40 - 12 NewcastleLondon Irish vs Newcastle Report
Saturday , April 12
Worcester 33 - 38 ExeterWorcester vs Exeter Report
Leicester 27 - 15 WaspsLeicester vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Bath2064
4Leicester Tigers2064
5Harlequins2058