French wheels fall off af­ter more con­tro­versy

The Rugby Paper - - Internationals - By GARY FITZGER­ALD

DAMIAN McKen­zie stole the show with a mouth-wa­ter­ing fly­half dis­play to en­sure the world cham­pi­ons crushed the French re­sis­tance to wrap up a ram­pant 3-0 se­ries win in Dunedin.

McKen­zie amassed 24 points, in­clud­ing two tries, while wing Rieko Ioane scored a su­perb 12-minute sec­ond half hat-trick as the All Blacks even­tu­ally smoth­ered their ri­vals into sub­mis­sion.

But again the vic­tory was as­sisted by a con­tro­ver­sial ref­er­ee­ing de­ci­sion which, as in the first two games, was fol­lowed by a rapid French melt­down in con­fi­dence and be­lief.

De­bate­able yel­low and red cards helped send the tourists slid­ing to heavy de­feats in Auck­land and then Welling­ton. This time it was ex­pe­ri­enced Ir­ish ref­eree John Lacey who riled the French and had them scream­ing Bleus mur­der.

Lacey al­lowed the first of McKen­zie’s two tries to stand with the scores level at 14-14 in the first half de­spite the of­fi­cial clearly ob­struct­ing re­place­ment French No.9 Bap­tiste Serin.

Serin was blocked by the un­wit­ting Lacey as he tried to tackle McKen­zie who was rac­ing onto Aaron Smith’s pass from a well worked scrum.

Lacey de­cided there was no rea­son to change his mind af­ter re­view­ing a re­play of the in­ci­dent. It was a piv­otal moment and France failed to regis­ter an­other point in the game hav­ing again made a red hot start to the Test.

Un­til that moment, the vis­i­tors had pushed the All Blacks onto the back foot and con­trolled the ball and game. Mor­gan Parra sparked a fu­ri­ous 21-phase French on­slaught when he in­ter­cepted McKen­zie’s pass but it failed to con­jure a try as the All Blacks soaked up the pres­sure.

The France scrum-half took a blow to the head in the process and needed treat­ment be­fore leav­ing the field hav­ing an HIA, which he failed. His re­place­ment Serin found the open­ing with a fine dummy for the open­ing try.

An­thony Bel­leau con­verted and the hosts were rat­tled as they had been in the open­ing two games be­fore France ca­pit­u­lated.

Sonny Billy Wil­liams fed Ben Smith for the All Blacks open­ing try and just a few min­utes later the French de­fence was too weak to stop a driv­ing New Zealand maul push­ing them back and flanker Matt Todd, who had re­placed Ardie Savea, touched the ball down.

The vis­i­tors replied with their own de­ci­sive at­tack, fin­ish­ing with cen­tre Wes­ley Fo­fana burst­ing through for a try con­verted by Bel­leau. But that was it.

McKen­zie prof­ited from Lacey’s in­ter­ven­tion as the ref­eree’s block­ing of Serin opened up the de­fence for him to race over and from then on it was an All Blacks land­slide with Ioane scor­ing three quick tries.

Lacey’s bad day con­tin­ued as he first awarded blind­side Shan­non Frizell a try only for the TMO to dis­agree and or­der him to change his de­ci­sion hav­ing seen the All Black not ground the ball prop­erly.

The Ir­ish­man also blun­dered when fail­ing to spot a Luke White­lock knock-on in the build up to Ioane’s third try. But the dam­age had been done. New Zealand had clinched a se­ries white­wash.

PIC­TURES: Getty Images

Hat-trick hero: Rieko Ioane dives over to score one of his three for New Zealand

Star turn: Damian McKen­zie runs in to score

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