France beaten by flying All Blacks
NEW Zealand coach Graham Henry declared his satisfaction after the All Blacks negotiated a potentially fraught World Cup clash against France with flying colours.
Israel Dagg crossed twice while Adam Thompson, Cory Jane and Sonny Bill Williams also breached the whitewash in a 37-17 victory against their main rivals in Pool A.
“It was a very pleasing performance. There were some good tries,” said Henry.
“We finished pretty well at times and put some good things together.
“It’s good to have a decent hit out against some decent opposition.
“We were about an eight out of 10, but we have a way to go yet.
“It was a step up in opposition, a step up in intensity and, for most of the game, we played pretty well.”
Adding to the sense of occasion at Eden Park was that captain Richie McCaw became the first All Black Test centurion.
“It’s just great to see Richie play his 100th game in a big match. He’s delighted and so he should be,” said Henry.
“In the All Blacks’ Tests that I have been involved in over the last eight years, there’s no doubt that he’s number one.
“He’s inspirational, leads by example and is world-class player.
“He’s been the number one player in the world three times and you can’t do much better than that.”
McCaw was pleased by the ruthless streak New Zealand showed at Eden Park during a match the All Blacks dominated except for a 20-minute spell in the second half.
“We realised we had to take a step up this week,” said McCaw.
“We had to absorb a fair bit early on and I was proud of the way the boys did that.
“When we got the opportunity, we put the points on the board. You need to be clinical when you get the opportunities.
“The boys held their cool and when we had a chance we took it. We’re very happy with the way things went.
“We have a fair way to go yet in the World Cup, but I’m looking forward to the next four or five weeks. Hopefully we can do something special.”
France captain Thierry Dusautoir made no attempt to excuse Les Bleus’ failings.
Maxime Mermoz and Francois Trinh-Duc ran in tries for France, but it was a disappointing performance from Marc Lievremont’s side.
“We made too many mistakes. We came back at the end of the second half,” said Dusautoir.
“We need to work hard again and we took away a good lesson in this game.
“Unfortunately in the first half our scrum was not so good but it was better in the second half.”