Five takeaways from New Zealand v France


Following an absorbing 26-13 victory for New Zealand over France in their June clash, here are five takeaways from the game in Wellington.

Red card right but changed everything: To the letter of the law Angus Gardner was correct to send off France full-back Benjamin Fall. He didn’t get up to contest for the ball and the responsibility is with him to protect the jumping player, who was Beauden Barrett. Barrett landed on his head first and we feel the impact from Anton Lienert-Brown had little to no effect on the situation. It’s just a shame this game was turned by the sending off as one minute later Joe Moody would cross, with Fall likely to have hauled him down had he remained on.

Hats off, France: Cedate Gomes Sa’s late try was a fitting reward for les Bleus who toiled despite being a man down. They actually won the second stanza 7-5 and huge credit must go to head coach Jacques Brunel, his coaching team and the players as past French teams might have thrown in the towel after the red card. This group did not and boy did they fight until the end, with that Gomes Sa score hugely deserved.

Parra again shows Test class: To play better than Aaron Smith despite a man down for a large chunk of the match is some effort from Parra. We praised the French scrum-half last week and more applause goes his way this week as he marshalled well under difficult circumstances and was a calming presence at the base. Two penalties from two off the kicking tee to boot for Parra as his 55 minute shift was another strong one.

Hansen won’t be happy: Just five points scored by New Zealand in the second-half as the usual late onslaught did not happen for the men in black. Jordie Barrett’s second score on 58 minutes, sparked by Damian McKenzie, secured the triumph but it was les Bleus, to their credit, who enjoyed the majority of possession and territory after the break and they can be hugely positive about their performance in Wellington.

But read little into this: Who will take the most out of this? One would argue France by plenty. As is often the case, teams can struggle to make the most of a numerical advantage and the All Blacks found that as the Ben Smith score came from nothing, and had Jordie Barrett not gone over right at the death of the first-half then the score would have been 14-6, not 21-6. France showed good composure under the tough circumstances, with their pack once again strong, and if they can keep building and launch one big shift next week, progress is being made.