All Blacks top France to end year on high note
WORLD player of the year Beauden Barrett helped stretch New Zealand’s winning streak over France to 10 games with a hard-fought but ultimately comfortable 24-19 victory on November 26.
The victory rounded off an incredible year for the All Blacks, the team having notched up 13 wins in 14 matches as well as taking the Rugby Championship title with two rounds to play, and also equalling the record unbeaten streak of 18 games, started in 2015.
The sole hiccup came at Irish hands in Chicago when they went down 40-29.
“It was a very tough game. I’m proud of my men for sticking it out for the win,” said New Zealand skipper Kieran Read.
“When we started at the start of year if you’d said we finish with one loss we’d be happy.
“It’s been a fantastic year to be part of.”
Having avenged their defeat by Ireland with a 21-9 return win in Dublin last week, it was also back to business at a packed Stade de France.
The last time these two teams met, it was embarassing, with France going down 62-13 in the quarter-finals of last year’s Rugby World Cup.
But the visitors were made to work for victory this time, Barrett scoring an intercept try and converting that and two other tries by Israel Dagg and Charlie Faumuina, as well as booting one penalty.
‘When we started at the start of the year, if you’d said we’d finish with one loss we’d be happy.’
Kieran Read New Zealand skipper
France’s points came from a Louis Picamoles try, converted by Baptiste Serin, whose two penalties matched those of Maxime Machenaud.
“It’s encouraging,” said France skipper Guilhem Guirado.
“But to lose two games like that [also a 25-23 defeat by Australia] is a bit tough. We’d like to kick on with some victories. It’s very disappointing.” –