Rugby World Cup 2011
NZ send ominous warning
Israel Dagg (AP)
Auckland - The All Blacks scored five tries for a convincing bonus point victory over World Cup nemesis France to give their skipper Richie McCaw a winning 100th Test on Saturday.
The All Blacks won 37-17, after leading 19-3 at halftime.
New Zealand gave the full house 60 800 Eden Park crowd what they wanted with a dominant display to justify their tournament favouritism and take charge with a five-point lead in Pool A with one game left in the group stage.
The All Blacks controlled all but the opening 10 minutes to part exorcise the demons of their surprising quarter-final exit to the French at the 2007 World Cup.
New Zealand, champing to deliver a Webb Ellis Cup to their rugby-obsessed homeland after 24 years of failure, made a powerful statement that they are the team to beat.
It was also a fitting reward for McCaw, the All Black described by coach Graham Henry as "an inspiration to New Zealanders."
The warrior openside flanker became the first All Black to play a century of Tests for his country.
Fullback Israel Dagg, who kept 98-Test Mils Muliaina out of the New Zealand lineup, was named man-of-the-match with a try double.
"We realised we had to take a step this week against the French. Obviously from history we knew this would be a good team," McCaw said.
"We had to absorb a fair bit early on, but I was proud of the way the boys did that, and then when we got our opportunity we put points on the board. In big Test matches that's what you've got to do."
French skipper Thierry Dusautoir said that France could learn a lot from the defeat.
"Unfortunately in the first half our skills weren't so good but we were better in the second half," he said
France have proved a World Cup nemesis for the All Blacks, dumping them out of the last World Cup and also winning their 1999 semi-final at Twickenham.
New Zealand, the world's top-ranked team since 2004, beat France to win the inaugural World Cup at Eden Park in 1987.
Les Bleus have now only won twice at the All Black citadel in nine encounters, the last coming 17 years ago and they now face a likely quarter-final against either Argentina or Scotland.
France began the stronger with new flyhalf Morgan Parra composed in attack and Les Bleus dominated the opening 10 minutes before the All Blacks scored from their first attack.
Centre Ma'a Nonu beat three tackles in a powerful run before number eight Adam Thomson scored from the next ruck after quick hands from Dan Carter.
The All Blacks were in again seven minutes later when Piri Weepu's clever inside ball put winger Cory Jane into the clear and he beat off a weak tackle from Maxime Medard to put his side 12-0 ahead.
Carter stepped through and sent Dagg racing over as the All Blacks took control with a 19-0 advantage after 21 minutes.
Sonny Bill Williams came on for hamstring-victim Jane before scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili kicked France's first points with a penalty just before halftime.
The All Blacks stretched their lead to 26-3 a minute after the resumption with the lively Dagg getting his second try.
Williams put Carter into the clear and at the next ruck Dagg stepped past Lionel Nallet and Jean-Baptiste Poux to wrap up New Zealand's bonus point fourth try.
The French finally breached New Zealand's line but needed a 45m intercept try from centre Maxime Mermoz off Carter's wayward pass in the 54th minute with Yachvili converting for 29-10.
Carter kept the All Blacks three converted tries ahead with a drop goal 16 minutes from time.
France got a controversial second try through replacement Francois Trinh-Duc off a quick tap penalty, but the All Blacks hit back from the kickoff with Sonny Bill Williams scoring his team's fifth try in the corner.Scores:
New Zealand 37 (Israel Dagg 2, Adam Thomson, Cory Jane, Sonny Bill Williams tries; Dan Carter 3 conversions, penalty, drop goal) def. France 17 (Maxime Mermoz, Francois Trinh-Duc tries; Dimitri Yachvili 2 conversions, penalty). HT: 19-3.
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Richard Kahui, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Ali Williams, 19 Anthony Boric, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Colin Slade, 22 Sonny Bill WilliamsFrance:
15 Damien Traille, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Aurelien Rougerie, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Maxime Medard, 10 Morgan Parra, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Julien Bonnaire, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 5 Lionel Nallet, 4 Pascal Pape, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Jean-Baptiste Poux
Substitutes: 16 William Servat, 17 Fabien Barcella, 18 Julien Pierre, 19 Imanol Harinordoquy, 20 Francois Trinh-Duc, 21 Fabrice Estebanez, 22 Cedric Heymans