All Blacks edge Paris thriller
Sat, 09 Nov 2013 21:58
Just one try in it
New Zealand held on in the face of a strong French rally late in the second half to claim a thrilling 26-19 win in Paris on Saturday.
In the end the All Blacks outscored Les Bleus by two tries to one - to continue their 100 percent record this year - and that was the difference, just one try.
New Zealand relied on a sturdy defence and Dan Carter's boot before wing Charles Piutau and Kieran Read's tries sent them clear, only for France to come close to a remarkable comeback.
France had sneaked into the lead (12-9) early in the second half, but then the Kiwis produced their traditional blitz - 17 points in 20 minutes - and it was left to the French to chase the game.
They did that well and in the final minutes laid siege to the All Blacks line, only for a French mistake to give the visitors a relieving penalty that ensured the Kiwis held on for the win.
The rain abated before kick off but a sopping wet week meant conditions were far from ideal for free-flowing, attacking rugby.
Yet both sets of players handled the slippery ball confidently and produced some entertaining running rugby.
New Zealand almost got off to a dream start as Ma'a Nonu broke the gainline.
The 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.
It 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.
Flyhalf 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 half-time, including one from almost halfway.
France 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 penalty.
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.
He 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.
Piutau 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.
Man of the match: You can always bank on Thierry Dusautoir to put his body on the line, while Florian Fritz and Wesley Fofana were value on defence. Dan Carter was class and Richie McCaw had his moments, but our award goes to the evergreen All Black No.8 Kieran Read. He does so much, with such ease, that you sometimes hardly notice him. But take a few minutes out and focus on him and you suddenly see him stamp his mark on the game.
Moment of the match: The Charles Piutau try regained the lead for New Zealand and at a crucial time, but the Kieran Read try made it a 14-point game with 14 minutes to go and it was the match-winning score. It was also a classic All Black try, with all the angles and off-loading.
Villain: Nobody really, not even Sam Whitelock with all his silliness late in the game.
Pens: Parra 4
For New Zealand:
Tries: Piutau, Read
Cons: Carter, Cruden
Pens: Carter 4
France: 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.
Replacements: 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.
New Zealand: 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.
Replacements: 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.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)
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