All Blacks un­changed; French wield the axe

Daily News - - SPORT - GREG STUTCHBURY

WELLING­TON: New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has named an un­changed side for the sec­ond Test against France in Welling­ton on Satur­day as he sought to ce­ment com­bi­na­tions and con­tinue to test his play­ers’ abil­i­ties to step up to in­ter­na­tional level.

The All Blacks won the first Test 52-11 last week in Auck­land. Hansen’s start­ing side wore down France’s re­sis­tance and ex­ploited a du­bi­ous yel­low card penalty be­fore the re­place­ments ran riot in the fi­nal 20 min­utes.

“As we have a big fo­cus right now on de­vel­op­ing our game and work­ing on our skill sets, con­nec­tions and com­bi­na­tions, it isn’t ben­e­fi­cial to be mak­ing whole­sale changes, if any at all, to the play­ing 23,” Hansen said.

“While we were re­ally happy with the way we fin­ished last week­end’s Test, we’re fully aware that we still have a lot of work to do.”

While the All Blacks ran away with the game in the fi­nal 20 min­utes, Hansen was well aware that it took time for his team to get into sec­ond gear and he is ex­pect­ing them to play bet­ter from the first whis­tle at Welling­ton Re­gional Sta­dium.

“The French would’ve taken a lot of con­fi­dence out of their first 50 min­utes on the week­end, so it will re­quire us to raise our game to an even higher level,” Hansen said.

“We’ll be look­ing to play our own high-en­ergy game with real in­tent. When it comes to our per­for­mance, we know there are high ex­pec­ta­tions from our fans.”

Mean­while, France coach Jac­ques Brunel has made five changes to his start­ing side.

Loose for­wards Fa­bien San­con­nie and Ju­di­cael Can­coriet, who started in the 52-11 firstTest loss, have been dropped from the 23-man match-day squad. Mathieu Ba­bil­lot and Kelian Gal­letier, who were not con­sid­ered for the first Test af­ter they played in the Top-14 fi­nal and ar­rived late in New Zealand, have been named to re­place the pair on the side of the French scrum.

Full-back Maxime Medard has sur­vived be­ing tram­pled on by Ngani Laumape in the Eden Park match, but has been shunted to the bench with Mont­pel­lier winger Ben Fall, also a late ar­rival, tak­ing his place in the No 15 jer­sey.

Gael Fickou, who is or­di­nar­ily a cen­tre for club Toulouse, has been named on the left wing for the in­jured Remy Grosso, who suf­fered fa­cial fractures and was ruled out of the se­ries af­ter a dou­ble tackle by Sam Cane and Ofa Tu’un­gafasi last week.

Bernard Le Roux has been pro­moted off the bench to re­place fel­low lock Paul Gabril­lagues, who was given a yel­low card in the first Test that blew the game open.

Un­til Gabril­lagues’s sin-bin­ning for a high tackle on Ryan Crotty, the match had been locked at 11-11 be­fore the home side ex­ploited the ad­van­tage to open up a 30-11 lead.

Ex­pe­ri­enced tight­head prop Rabah Sli­mani, who was de­mol­ished by debu­tant Karl Tu’inukuafe, has dropped out of the match-day squad al­to­gether along with re­place­ment hooker Adrien Pelissie.

Rac­ing 92 prop Ce­date Gomes Sa and La Rochelle hooker Pierre Bougarit have taken their places on the bench.

15 Jordie Bar­rett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 An­ton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beau­den Bar­rett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke White­lock, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Bar­rett, 4 Sam White­lock (cap­tain), 3 Owen Franks, 2-Codie Tay­lor, 1 Joe Moody

16 Nathan Har­ris, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tu’un­gafasi, 19 Vaea Fi­fita, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Per­e­nara, 22 Damian McKen­zie, 23 Ngani Laumape

15 Ben Fall, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud (cap­tain), 12 Ge­of­frey Doumay­rou, 11 Gael Fickou, 10 An­thony Bel­leau, 9 Mor­gan Parra, 8 Kevin Gour­don, 7 Kelian Gal­letier, 6 Mathieu Ba­bil­lot, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Bernard Le Roux, 3 Uini Ato­nio, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Dany Priso

16 Pierre Bougarit, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Ce­date Gomes Sa, 19-Paul Gabril­lagues, 20 Alexan­dre La­pandry, 21 Bap­tiste Serin, 22 Jules Plis­son, 23 Maxime Medard.

GAEL FICKOU

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