France 12-39 New Zealand, Marseille, November 28
Clinical All Blacks crush France
November 28, 2009
New Zealand's dives over to score a try at the Stade Velodrome
© Getty Images
New Zealand completed their latest unbeaten tour of Europe with a clinical 39-12 demolition of France at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille.
Tries from Sitiveni Sivivatu, Mils Muilaina, Jerome Kaino, Corey Jane and Conrad Smith carried the All Blacks to an impressive victory with fly-half Dan Carter delivering a virtuoso display on his way to a personal tally of 14 points. The kicking exploits of scrum-half Julien Dupuy and fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc kept the hosts in the opening period but their lacklustre challenge was swept aside by the rampant visitors after the break.
France began with plenty of promise but could not match the All Blacks' pace and power with their frustration boiling over in the closing minutes. The result not only signalled an emphatic return to attacking form for the visitors but also ensured they completed a second successive tour of Europe having not conceded a try.
Roared on by a highly-charged capacity crowd, the hosts drew first blood after claiming a minor victory at the first scrum. Prop Fabien Barcella and hooker William Servat delighted in their early dominance that drew a penalty and Dupuy hammered home the advantage by slotting the kick.
Back came New Zealand with Ma'a Nonu driving deep into the France 22 before he was hauled down just short. But the ball was recycled and worked wide to Sivivatu who exploited a gaping hole in the French defence to cross for the opening try that was converted by Carter.
France responded well with centre Yannick Jauzion leading the charge upfield but some scrambling defence from New Zealand and some lazy running from captain Riche McCaw took the sting out of the attack. France opted for a drop goal in the hope of stealing a score for their efforts but Trinh-Duc could only knock Dupuy's pass on.
A penalty against the All Blacks at the lineout allowed Dupuy to reduce the arrears with his second kick on the quarter hour and his third five minutes later edged the home side ahead once more after the All Blacks' scrum woes resurfaced.
A Jimmy Cowan charge down on a clearance from Trinh-Duc almost resulted in a try midway through the half but France shrugged off the setback as they continued with their positive approach.
The see-saw nature of the game continued with a superb counter attack from New Zealand following a failed kick through. Mils Muliaina sparked the move that also included Conrad Smith and Sivivatu with ended with the All Blacks' fullback sliding in for his side's second score. Carter was unable to add the extras but his side had reclaimed the lead.
New Zealand continued to find gaps in the French defence and were rewarded for their industry with another penalty against the hosts at the breakdown and this time Carter found the target.
Afforded more time and space, Carter chipped over the top and Nonu raced through to collect the ball. France recovered but the ball was recycled to Keiran Read and then Tom Donnelly but the lock was denied by some desperate defence from No.8 Julien Bonnaire who managed to strip the ball from the lock's grasp with the line beckoning.
But the danger was not averted for long. The All Blacks wheeled the resulting scrum and Kaino was able to dot down for the easy score. Carter's conversion carried the visitors into a 13 point lead with barely half hour on the clock.
There was a another swift response from the hosts and a strong run from Sebastien Chabal and another from captain Thierry Dusautoir carried them deep into New Zealand territory before Trinh-Duc landed an impressive drop goal to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
A superb touch-finder from Dupuy looked to have turned the screw on the All Blacks but some more defensive lapses from France allowed Muliaina, Cowan and then Carter to take the game back into French territory.
Early in the second half it was France's turn to be gifted some space to exploit with first winger Vincent Clerc and then centre David Marty cutting through the All Blacks defence but by the time the ball found Maxime Medard out wide the visitors had regrouped. Another infringement at scrum time against the All Blacks gave Dupuy the opportunity to close the gap but he was wide of the mark with his penalty.
Instead it was New Zealand who notched the opening score of the second period after fullback Damien Traille was found wanting under the high ball. His failure to claim possession eventually led to Carter slotting his second penalty. McCaw was then penalised for coming in from the side to give Dupuy a chance to atone for his earlier miss but he snatched at his kick and pulled it wide.
Another sublime break from New Zealand followed with a chip and chase from Carter carving the hosts open. The fly-half fed Muliaina who was able to offload under pressure to Read but the on-rushing McCaw crucially lost his footing when a scoring pass looked a certainty.
Carter was soon causing more havoc in the French defence with a neat show and go but the hosts did just enough to disrupt the latest All Blacks attack. But there was no let up from New Zealand who once again capitalised as the French defence went missing. First Carter achieved the rare feat of hitting the cross bar with a drop goal and when France failed to clear the danger Cory Jane pounced on the loose ball. The winger then handed off Jauzion and chipped ahead before reclaiming the ball and scoring under the posts. Carter's conversion put the game well out of reach for the hosts.
Smith was the next to go close scything through the French defence on a great angle but play was brought to an abrupt halt by referee Alain Rolland when it was feared replacement scrum-half Morgan Parra had suffered a serious injury. Thankfully he recovered from the head knock but his side continued to labour.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, Smith stole down the blindside for the All Blacks' fifth try but tempers flared in the aftermath to overshadow the score. Usual service was resumed with Carter's superb conversion that hammered home the All Blacks' total dominance.
The All Blacks refused to ease off and another strong run from Sivivatu was halted just before the line and as tempers frayed again replacement All Blacks prop Owen Franks was sin-binned. The visitors were denied a final score but the damage was already done and the final whistle brought a welcome end to France's agony.
The All Blacks will now have to regroup for a final tour match against the Barbarians at Twickenham next Saturday where the second-stringers will all likely get another chance.