Paris - New Zealand have held off a spirited France to continue their 100 percent
record this year with a 26-19 victory at the Stade de France on
Charles Piutau scored one try and set up Kieran Read for a second while Brice Dulin went over for the hosts.
Dan Carter kicked 14 points for the All Blacks with Morgan Parra matching him for the hosts.
were knocking on the door in the final minutes with a series of scrums
five yards out but couldn't force their way over to potentially snatch a
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen admitted it had been a real battle.
first thing we needed to do was score more points (than them) but
outside of that we needed real resilience, composure, patience and at
times to deal with (our) frustrations," he said.
"I thought we did
that really well. The French turned up to play and played really well,
thats why it's called a test match. It's a test of resolve and mental
strength. Right across the board, we weren't given the win, we had to
fight for it and I'm pleased they did that."
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre admitted he was frustrated at having missed out on a famous result.
course, we're improving but the problem is the investment from this
group and deserves more than yet another defeat," he said.
"It's little details and every time at the top level we're punished by these little mistakes."
rain abated before kick off but a wet week in the French capital meant
conditions were far from ideal for free-flowing, attacking rugby.
New Zealand almost got off to a dream start as Ma'a Nonu broke the gainline.
ball was recycled to the right and wing Cory Jane looked to have
touched down in the corner just as he was bundled into touch.
went to the video review which showed he'd got the ball down before his
foot touched out of bounds, but at the last second he'd dropped the ball
and the try was disallowed.
France were a changed outfit from recent abject performances and showed great willingness to run at the All Blacks.
Fly-half Remi Tales made several half breaks and the jinking Wesley Fofana also managed to get beyond the gainline.
But several times they came up just short in their attempts to breach the tryline and had to settle for penalties.
Parra missed his first effort from halfway but knocked over the next three before missing another just before the break.
Carter also had three successful kicks before halftime, including one from almost halfway.
looked the most likely to cross the tryline in the first half when
Parra charged down a kick in New Zealand's 22. But after a couple of
piercing breaks from Tales, they eventually had to settle for another
The two kickers continued to trade penalties at the start of the second half before New Zealand struck in clinical fashion.
The score came out of nothing as the ball was moved down the line to left wing Piutau, who kicked and chased.
had the pace to beat Yoann Huget and then got a favourable bounce to
take him past the covering Parra. Carter kicked the extras.
Aaron Cruden came on for Carter but missed with his first penalty attempt from wide right.
The All Blacks were well on top by now, camped inside the French half but their second try owed much to pure genius.
was the architect with an incredible pass out of the back of his hand
while being tackled by two players to set Read free to scamper over in
the left corner, with Cruden adding the extras.
That seemed to
spark France into life, though, and they went straight up the other end,
barged up to the New Zealand line with their forwards and then went
left for full-back Dulin to dive over.
With 10 minutes to go the crowd could sense a comeback and France kicked a penalty to the corner rather than at goal.
Fofana and Sebastien Vahaamahina made good ground before Damien Chouly was held up over the line, and France's hopes were over.
Try: Brice Dulin
Conversion: Morgan Parra
Penalties: Parra (4)
Tries: Charles Piutau, Kieran Read
Conversions: Dan Carter (2)
Penalties: Carter (4)
15 Brice Dulin, 14 Yoann
Huget, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Maxime Medard, 10 Remi
Tales, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Wenceslas Lauret, 6 Thierry
Dusautoir (captain, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Pascal Pape, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2
Benjamin Kayser, 1 Yannick Forestier.
Substitutes: 16 Dimitri
Szarzewski, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Sebastien
Vahaamahina, 20 Antonie Claassen, 21 Jean-Marc Doussain, 22 Camille
Lopez, 23 Gael Fickou
15 Israel Dagg,
14 Cory Jane, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Daniel
Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam
Messam, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven
Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt
Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera
Kerr-Barlow, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Ryan Crotty