Albany - France's second-string players pressed their case for Test selection with a
convincing 38-15 win over the Blues here on Tuesday.
France scored four tries to two in a dominant performance, with Fijian-born
wing Noa Nakaitaci claiming a double and scrumhalf Jean Marc Doussain booting
home seven of his eight kicks.
Fullback Maxime Medard was the only starting player carried over from
France's 23-13 first Test loss to the All Blacks on Saturday, and flank Yannick
Nyanga said his team-mates were looking to catch coach Philippe Saint-Andre's
"We knew it would be a hard game for us because it's between two Tests
and a lot of our players are playing for the French national team for the first
time," he said.
"It wasn't easy to prepare but we played very well tonight and we're
very happy about the win... now it's up to the coach to decide."
Flyhalf Baden Kerr gave France a wake-up call when he put the Blues ahead
with a penalty after just two minutes of the first match a New Zealand Super Rugby
team has ever played against international opposition.
The French responded immediately when Doussain hit back with a three-pointer
of his own as the tourists took the game to the New Zealanders, with Medard
leading the attack.
Dominating the breakdown and assisted by some poor discipline from a home
side missing six All Blacks, France were only denied two tries before half-time
by some desperate Blues defence.
Instead they had to settle for three more Doussain penalties to go into the
break leading 12-3.
Their patient attack finally paid off soon after the restart, when Toulouse
centre Gael Fickou just got his fingertips to a pass and fended off a defender
for the first try of the match, with Doussain nailing the conversion.
The second try followed moments later when Medard landed an inch-perfect
kick to set up a French lineout deep in Auckland territory, with Nakaitaci
touching down in the corner for a converted score.
Despite their lead, the French attack did not relent and Nakaitaci scored
his second try when he stretched out through a crush of defenders to make it
Blues captain James Parson attempted to spark a fightback when the New
Zealanders managed their first sustained period of possession mid-way through
the second half, burrowing his way over the line after 18 phases of play.
George Moala followed with another for the New Zealanders on 68 minutes,
catching the Les Blues defenders napping when he burst into space and narrowed
the gap to 31-15.
But Benjamin Kayser's converted try for the French snuffed out any chance of
an upset, with midfielder Maxime Mermoz almost adding another, which was
disallowed when the tourists were penalised for obstruction.
France will play New Zealand in the second Test in Christchurch on Saturday.
Tries: James Parsons, George Moala
Conversions: Marty McKenzie
Penalties: Baden Kerr
Tries: Gael Fickou, Noa Nakaitaci (2), Benjamin Kayser
Conversions: Jean-Marc Doussain (3)
Penalties: Doussain (4)
15 Marty McKenzie, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 George Moala, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Kane Barrett, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Sam Prattley.
Substitutes: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Ronald Raaymakers, 20 Sean Polwart, 21 Chris Noakes, 22 Tevita Li, 23 Wayne Ngaluafe.
15 Maxime Médard, 14 Noa Nakaitaci, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Rémi Tales, 9 Jean-Marc Doussain, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Bernard Le Roux, 6 Yannick Nyanga (captain), 5 Alexandre Flanquart, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Eddy Ben Arous.
Substitutes: 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Daniel Kotze, 19 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 20 Damien Chouly, 21 Frédéric Michalak, 22 Camille Lopez, 23 Brice Dulin.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)