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Les Bleus cruise past the Blues

Tue, 11 Jun 2013 08:51
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Now it's up to the coach to decide
Quote-end

France scored four tries in the second half to secure a convincing 38-15 victory over the Blues at North Harbour Stadium on Tuesday.

Fullback Maxime Medard was the only starting player carried over from France's 12-23 first Test loss to the All Blacks on Saturday, and flank Yannick Nyanga said his team-mates were looking to catch coach Philippe Saint-Andre's eye.

"We knew it would be a hard game for us because it's between two Tests and a lot of our players are playing for the French national team for the first time," he said.

"It wasn't easy to prepare but we played very well tonight and we're very happy about the win... now it's up to the coach to decide."

Flyhalf Baden Kerr gave France a wake-up call when he put the Blues ahead with a penalty after just two minutes of the first match a New Zealand Super Rugby team has ever played against international opposition.

The French responded immediately when Doussain hit back with a three-pointer of his own as the tourists took the game to the New Zealanders, with Medard leading the attack.

Dominating the breakdown and assisted by some poor discipline from a home side missing six All Blacks, France were only denied two tries before half-time by some desperate defence.

Instead they had to settle for three more Doussain penalties to go into the break leading 12-3.

Their patient attack finally paid off soon after the restart, when Toulouse centre Gael Fickou just got his fingertips to a pass and fended off a defender for the first try of the match, with Doussain nailing the conversion.

The second try followed moments later when Medard landed an inch-perfect kick to set up a French line-out deep in Blues territory, with Noa Nakaitaci touching down in the corner for a converted score.

Despite their lead, the French attack did not relent and Nakaitaci scored his second try when he stretched out through a crush of defenders to make it 31-3.

Blues captain James Parson attempted to spark a fightback when the New Zealanders managed their first sustained period of possession mid-way through the second half, burrowing his way over the line after 18 phases of play.

George Moala followed with another for the New Zealanders on 68 minutes, catching the French defenders napping when he burst into space and narrowed the gap to 31-15.

But Benjamin Kayser's converted try for the French snuffed out any chance of an upset, with midfielder Maxime Mermoz almost adding another, which was disallowed when the tourists were penalised for obstruction.

France will play New Zealand in the second Test in Christchurch on Saturday.

Man of the match: France's Fijian-born wing Noa Nakaitaci made a couple of bone-crunching hits in the first half and follwed that up with a brace of tries just after half-time.

Moment of the match: Nakaitaci's second try was an impressive effort, coming off turnover ball, and it effectively killed the game off as a contest.

Villain of the match: There were none.

The scorers:

For the Blues:
Tries: Parsons, Moala
Con: McKenzie
Pen: Kerr

For France:
Tries:
Fickou, Nakaitaci 2, Kayser
Cons: Doussain 3
Pens: Doussain 4

Teams:

Blues: 15 Marty McKenzie, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 George Moala, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Kane Barrett, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Ronald Raaymakers, 20 Sean Polwart, 21 Chris Noakes, 22 Tevita Li, 23 Wayne Ngaluafe.

France: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Noa Nakaitaci, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Rémi Tales, 9 Jean-Marc Doussain, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Bernard Le Roux, 6 Yannick Nyanga (captain), 5 Alexandre Flanquart, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Eddy Ben Arous.
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Daniel Kotze, 19 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 20 Damien Chouly, 21 Frédéric Michalak, 22 Camille Lopez, 23 Brice Dulin.

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Richard Kelly (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

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