All Blacks make his­tory with five-try vic­tory but Hansen still wants more

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Rugby Union - Daniel Schofield at Stade de France

New Zealand were once again ac­cused of de­liv­er­ing a patchy per­for­mance, but when that patch is 40 min­utes of unadul­ter­ated bril­liance, does it really mat­ter?

This is the prob­lem when stan­dards are set so ridicu­lously high that noth­ing less than a per­fect 80 min­utes is deemed ac­cept­able. France did “win” the sec­ond half 137, but that was a few months af­ter the Lord Mayor’s show. And what a show it was, Beau­den Bar­rett act­ing as the pup­pet-mas­ter de­ploy­ing Rieko Ioane, Sonny Bill Wil­liams and Damian Mcken­zie as his mar­i­onettes of may­hem.

Four tries were scored through Dane Coles, Waisake Na­holo, Sam Cane and Ryan Crotty, who had the hon­our of scor­ing New Zealand’s 2,000th try in in­ter­na­tional rugby.

Af­ter the feast came the famine. France cap­i­talised upon the con­ces­sion of 11 sec­ond-half penal­ties by New Zealand as well as 80 per cent pos­ses­sion, although Na­holo’s sec­ond try gave New Zealand the last word.

Head coach Steve Hansen’s chief con­cerns af­ter­wards re­volved around cap­tain Kieran Read and Coles, who were both with­drawn in­jured and are doubts for the match against Scot­land on Sat­ur­day. Read had a slight groin strain, while Coles came off in the 23rd minute with a knee in­jury that will re­quire a scan.

In con­trast to the F-bomb-drop­ping, note­book-thrash­ing anger of Eng­land head coach Ed­die Jones, Hansen rated his frus­tra­tion lev­els at five out of 10 – a missed Tube train or a bad cup of tea per­haps – cit­ing the ab­sence of more than 300 Test caps’ worth of ex­pe­ri­ence, in­clud­ing four mem­bers of their lead­er­ship group.

“It is very dif­fi­cult for any team to hold the mo­men­tum for the whole du­ra­tion of the con­test,” Hansen said. “Once we lost mo­men­tum, the French team gained con­fi­dence and put us un­der pres­sure.

“I know it is go­ing to hap­pen be­cause the team we have got at the mo­ment, we are miss­ing a lot of peo­ple. You have to re­place ex­pe­ri­ence with in­ex­pe­ri­ence. As coaches we have to be pa­tient and make sure on game day we don’t get too frus­trated. We scored five tries, so that’s not too bad a day at the of­fice.”

Taken in iso­la­tion, the sec­ond half was far from dis­as­trous. Be­ing forced to mount a de­fen­sive rear­guard may have even served a greater pur­pose than their first-half at­tack­ing clinic. Par­tic­u­larly so in the ab­sence of Coles, Read, and, for 10 min­utes, Wil­liams, af­ter he was shown a yel­low card for de­lib­er­ately bat­ting fly-half An­thony Bel­leau’s cross-field kick out of the dead-ball area. It was an act of stu­pid­ity which also re­sulted in a penalty try and a fur­ther penalty while he was in the sin-bin.

“The Sonny one, he doesn’t know the rules be­cause he was play­ing league,” Hansen said. “It was a good les­son for Sonny. He’ll know next time to catch it rather than hit it over the line.”

France were also much im­proved af­ter a first half which coach Guy Noves deemed un­ac­cept­able. “The first half did not match the stan­dard of an in­ter­na­tional team,” he said. “We re­spect the New Zealand team and their qual­i­ties and we were def­i­nitely not up to the stan­dard.”

With 18 play­ers out in­jured, Noves was at least en­cour­aged by the per­for­mances of Bel­leau and scrum-half An­toine Dupont on their first starts. It seems like a gen­er­a­tion ago that France had a set­tled half-back com­bi­na­tion, and with Bel­leau, 21, and Dupont 20, there is now an op­por­tu­nity to build an axis for the fu­ture.

Both teams, or rather their re­serves, will re­con­vene in Lyon on Tues­day night be­fore New Zealand head to Ed­in­burgh. Omi­nously, the All Blacks are still look­ing for that per­fect 80-minute per­for­mance.

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