Fearsome All Blacks steamroll France

New Zealand completely outclassed France in the first of two autumn Tests in Lyon on Saturday, handing the home side an emphatic seven-try 47-3 drubbing.

In an entralling display that combined ferocious defence with fearless attack, New Zealand made a mockery of the game’s billing as a contest between the world’s two leading rugby-playing nations.

France looked leaden-footed and predictable, and were completely undone by their first-half tactics of endless, speculative and generally overhit up-and-unders and the odd rolling maul that led nowhere.

New Zealand, showing 10 changes from the side that last week posted a record 41-20 win over reigning world champions England, scored tries though Sitiveni Sivivatu (2), Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Conrad Smith, Joe Rokocoko and Luke McAlister.

Although not flawless with his kicking, Carter amassed 17 points before being replaced with 20 minutes to play.

Man-of-the-match Jerry Collins was full of praise for his teammates.

“At this stage of the season, we are all looking to the World Cup next year and it’s important to see what the young players can do,” said the impressive flanker.

“The rain and conditions were atrocious and France tried to play.

“But we played well. We made more of our opportunities and got the ball to stick.”

Veteran French winger Christophe Dominici admitted it was back to the drawing board for his team ahead of a second meeting with the All Blacks in Paris next week.

“There’s a lot of work to do before the next game,” said the Stade Francais man.

New Zealand opened the scoring in the sixth minute, Fijian-born winger Sivivatu taking a slick pass from an under-pressure Collins—excellent throughout—and side-stepping through two woeful tackles by opposite number Aurelien Rougerie and openside Julien Bonnaire.

Carter missed the conversion but struck a penalty five minutes later after the recalled French number eight Elvis Vermeulen strayed offside at a ruck.

France continued to be penalised heavily by Australian referee Stuart Dickinson for infringing at the scrum and ruck, and Carter missed a 48m penalty attempt when prop Sylvain Marconnet handled at a ruck after 20 minutes.

The home side eventually got on the scoreboard two minutes later when centre Florian Fritz landed a 40m drop goal after attempts to break down the All Black defence had floundered.

France then suffered a double blow when captain Fabien Pelous was yellow carded for holding back Ali Williams and Carter stepped up to slot the penalty over from 43m.

But with Pelous off the pitch, France held firm and even had a chance to pull back three points after New Zealand infringed but scrumhalf Dimitri Yachhvili scuffed the easy penalty effort to the groans of the majority of the 41 000-crowd at the Stade Gerland.

The visitors threatened when Carter broke the line, passed inside to captain McCaw who offloaded to number eight Rodney So’oialo, whose grubber for an onrushing Rokocoko was beaten away by veteran French winger Christophe Dominici.

In the 35th minute, France lost their own line-out 10m from their line.
From the resulting scrum and ruck, McCaw picked up and drove hard under Bonnaire’s tackle to touch down. Carter missed the extras.

The pressure on the France scrum told on the stroke of half-time.

The All Blacks turned the ball over in the French 22, the irrepresible McCaw pounced and broke and from the ruck, scrumhalf Piri Weepu put in a long pass to Carter who strolled over unopposed for a try he converted for a 23-3 half-time lead.

France started the second-half with some elan, Vermeulen to the fore as the side started to string some passes together.

But hooker Dimitri Szarzewski spilled the ball in midfield under the barrage of the All Blacks’ fearsome blitz defence.

Williams scooped up the loose ball, drew two defenders and slipped a delightful pass to Smith who outran the cover from 80m.

With France in disarray, Rokocoko scored the All Blacks’ fifth try after a mismove in midfield that saw centre Luke McAlister make a clean break for the line and pop an inside pass to the winger after being dragged down by Julien Laharrague.

Sivivatu scored his second after a Collins intercept of a pass from replacement hooker Raphael Ibanez set up a massive overlap on the left wing.

McAlister rounded off a break by Sivivatu for the game’s final try in the corner with four minutes to play, and the French team were roundly booed and whistled as the public expressed their discontent at a terrible home display. - Sapa-AFP

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