First half power play ends French hopes

The Rugby Paper - - Autumn Internationals - ■ From JAMES CANDY in Paris

A RUTH­LESS firsthalf blitz from New Zealand was enough to hold-off a spir­ited French fight­back in Paris.

Beau­den Bar­rett or­ches­trated tries for Dane Coles and Waisake Na­holo.

Teddy Thomas got one back for France but Ryan Crotty and Sam Cane com­peted a near fault­less first-half per­for­mance.

The rookie half-back duo of An­toine Dupont and An­toine Bel­leau gave those watch­ing a snap­shot into what prom­ises to be a bright fu­ture for France.

It did not take long for New Zealand to click into gear at a rain-soaked Stade de France. Aaron Smith sniped from the base of a five-me­tre scrum. The All Blacks kept their icy com­po­sure and handed the ball to play­maker Bar­rett, who found Coles run­ning a de­struc­tive an­gle to score from close range.

Bar­rett added the ex­tras be­fore find­ing the tar­get with an­other penalty as France went 10-0 down af­ter 17 min­utes.

It looked as if the flood­gates had been opened five min­utes later. The vis­i­tors put the squeeze on at two five-me­tre scrums be­fore let­ting Bar­rett play off the third. He drew in the de­fence and threw an inch per­fect pass over it for Na­holo to dot down.

He landed the tricky con­ver­sion, but France struck back five min­utes later when a dis­guised off­load from Mathieu Bastareaud al­lowed Ge­of­frey Doumay­rou to com­bine with Nans Du­cu­ing and send Thomas over at the corner.

Rabah Sli­mani was sin­binned for bring­ing down a scrum. Sony Bill Wil­liams showed his full reper­toire of skills to send a del­i­cate kick through for Crotty to crash over, and there was still time for a fourth con­verted try of the half.

Rieko Ioane showed sear­ing pace down his left wing be­fore comb­ing with Damien McKen­zie, who used quick hands to send Cane crash­ing over for a 31-5 half-time lead.

Bel­leau landed a penalty af­ter the restart be­fore a mo­ment of mad­ness from Wil­liams gifted the French a penalty try.

The cross-code in­ter­na­tional bat­ted a kick aimed at Yoann Huget be­hind his own try line with his hand and was shown a yel­low card be­fore ref­eree An­gus Gard­ner awarded a penalty try.

Bel­leau cut the gap to 13 points with an­other penalty be­fore Vaea Fi­fita pro­duced a try sav­ing tackle to deny Thomas a sec­ond.

France had one fi­nal chance, but Steve Hansen’s men pro­duced an almighty shunt at a five me­tre scrum to seal vic­tory.

First of five: Dane Coles scores the open­ing try

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