France rue missed opportunity
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre cut a dejected figure as he lamented missing a rare opportunity to beat the All Blacks.
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre cut a dejected figure as he lamented missing a rare opportunity to beat the world champion All Blacks at Eden Park.
The All Blacks won the untidy encounter 23-13 and outscored France two tries to one.
It was a match Les Bleus were desperate to win after their narrow 8-7 loss to the All Blacks in their last encounter - the World Cup Final on the same ground two years ago.
Instead they were beaten by a golden five minutes just before half-time for New Zealand when their attacking game plan worked and they scored two converted tries.
Outside that period, which lifted the All Blacks to a 17-10 lead at the break, there was little between the two teams and Saint-Andre believed his side had ample chances to pull off an historic victory.
"We are very disappointed. We were in the game for 80 minutes," he said.
"We need to congratulate the All Blacks. Each time they had an opportunity they scored. I think we broke them quite a lot, maybe seven times, but we didn't finish them off."
Yoann Huget and Florian Fritz found ample space to punch through the All Blacks frontline but handling errors killed most moves.
Loose forward Louis Picamoles spilled a pass just short of the try line and the French pack lost crucial attacking scrums.
"We had the opportunity when Louis Picamoles dropped the ball going for the line and there was nobody there.
"It was a shame because for the French team we don't have too many opportunities to beat New Zealand in New Zealand."
The All Blacks have not lost on Eden Park since 1994 and that was to a French team captained by Saint-Andre who sparked the match-winning try.
It was one of only four Tests won by France out of 22 played in New Zealand, but Saint-Andre believed they would improve that statistic before this tour is over.
"Now we need to carry on and work and have a positive attitude to come back stronger for the second Test and the third Test," he said.
The second Test is in Christchurch next Saturday and the final Test is in New Plymouth a week later.