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
Friday , April 18
Harlequins vs LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Preview
Saturday , April 19
Exeter vs Sale15:00
Bath vs Worcester15:00
Wasps vs Gloucester15:15
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London Irish14:00
Newcastle vs Saracens15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , April 18
Leinster vs Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Glasgow vs UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Preview
Saturday , April 19
Zebre vs Edinburgh14:30
Connacht vs Munster18:15
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs Scarlets14:00
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys16:45
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , April 18
Castres vs MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Preview
Saturday , April 19
Oyonnax vs Toulouse14:55
Perpignan vs Toulon17:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Biarritz vs Brive18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles20:35
More Top 14 fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 18
Hurricanes vs BluesHurricanes vs Blues Preview
Melbourne Rebels vs Western Force19:40
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs vs Crusaders19:35
Waratahs vs Bulls19:00
Sharks vs Cheetahs15:00
Stormers vs Lions17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
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
Gloucester 17 - 18 BathGloucester vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 22 ToulonBordeaux-Begles vs Toulon Report
Toulouse 16 - 9 BriveToulouse vs Brive Report
Grenoble 30 - 36 Montpellier
Perpignan 22 - 12 Oyonnax
Bayonne 24 - 19 Stade Francais
Racing Metro Paris 37 - 7 Biarritz
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
Lions 12 - 25 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 11
Sale Sharks 12 - 27 HarlequinsSale Sharks vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Ulster 58 - 12 ConnachtUlster vs Connacht Report
Edinburgh 22 - 29 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
Ospreys 25 - 19 LeinsterOspreys vs Leinster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 23 - 11 CastresClermont Auvergne vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Highlanders 27 - 20 BullsHighlanders vs Bulls Report
Reds 20 - 23 BrumbiesReds vs Brumbies Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers1963
4Bath1959
5Harlequins1954