All Blacks show­case the skills that make them best in world

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby Union - By Daniel Schofield at the Stade de France

On a day that Eng­land huffed and puffed their way past Ar­gentina, New Zealand un­leashed the full range of qual­i­ties that un­der­score their sta­tus as world No1 in a richly en­ter­tain­ing fivetry vic­tory over France in Paris.

The first-half was an ab­so­lute clinic. France were by no means aw­ful, but ev­ery time they made a mis­take, the All Blacks cap­i­talised. Beau­den Bar­rett, who kicked six from six, or­ches­trated pro­ceed­ings at fly-half while Reiko Ioane and full back Damian McKen­zie cut holes every­where against a French team fea­tur­ing six debu­tants and a rookie half-back pair­ing.

France, how­ever, re­stored some dig­nity in the sec­ond half, in­spired by scrum-half An­toine Dupont on his first start. Cen­tral to their come­back was a dra­matic trans­for­ma­tion at the scrum.

In the first half, New Zealand had been ut­terly dom­i­nant, win­ning three penal­ties in a row at one point and forc­ing the sin-bin­ning of Rabah Sli­mani. Some­how those roles were com­pletely re­v­ersed af­ter half-time.

With a cou­ple of min­utes to go in front of their own posts, New Zealand fi­nally shoved the French scrum back be­fore Waisake Na­holo rounded off the scor­ing with his sec­ond try.

The visi­tors had been 17-0 up within 22 min­utes. Hooker Dane Coles picked a per­fect line off Bar­rett’s shoul­der be­fore the fly half fired a long mis-pass to wing Na­holo to score in the cor­ner.

France re­stored a de­gree of hope as wing Teddy Thomas fin­ished a back­line move. Yet New Zealand im­me­di­ately cap­i­talised upon Sli­mani’s yel­low card. Bar­rett fed Sonny Bill Wil­liams who per­fectly judged a grub­ber kick through to cen­tre part­ner Ryan Crotty for the All Blacks’ 2000th try in in­ter­na­tional rugby. They saved the best for the last play of the half. Ioane stormed down the left wing, found McKen­zie on his shoul­der who gave the scor­ing pass to Cane.

Trail­ing 31-5 at half-time, nine min­utes af­ter the break, France had clawed back 13 points. An­toine Bel­leau kicked two penal­ties and at­tempted a cross­field kick to Yoann Huget which Wil­liams de­cided to bat the ball past the dead-ball line. Ref An­gus Gard­ner de­cided to sin-bin Wil­liams, cor­rectly, and, rather mys­ti­fy­ingly, award a penalty try. Af­ter that New Zealand scram­bled and spoiled suc­cess­fully un­til Na­holo’s fin­ish­ing touch.

Lead­ing man: Dane Coles scores the open­ing try of the All Blacks’ win in Paris

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