France Shock New Zealand All Blacks At House Of Pain
The visitors scored first and never trailed, eventually outscoring an under-strength All Blacks three tries to two.
A massive defensive display from France was contrasted by a below-par performance from the home team, who were dominated for most of the match.
But nothing should be taken away from France who attacked decisively and made very few errors to record their highest-ever Test score in New Zealand.
France got the scoreboard ticking after enjoying the better of the opening exchanges. The French maul was functioning well and earned the visitors a penalty in accordance with the return to the ‘old laws’ as the All Blacks pulled it down.
Julien Dupuy opened his account in international rugby without a problem but Stephen Donald leveled the scores ten minutes later after a late tackle from French skipper Thierry Dusautoir (Wearing his Optimum Headguard).
A scything run down the inside channel from Francois Trinh-Duc (Wearing His Puma V1-08 Rugby boots) saw the fly-half bounce off four tackles to crash over. Dupuy added the extras to give France a deserved 10-3 lead.
As the French confidence grew, so did the momentum they were gathering. When number eight Louis Picamoles ran a kick back from deep just before the half-hour mark, there was trouble brewing. A wonderful flowing movement in the best traditions of French rugby would follow as the Toulouse back three showed their class, taking the ball up to the corner. Hooker William Servat’s bulk did the rest putting the All Blacks further behind. Dupuy was on target from the touchline with the conversion to give the visitors a fourteen-point lead.
The All Blacks had been their own worst enemies and never looked like touching down in the first half-an-hour. They struggled to string any phases together and the tackling just wasn’t up to scratch.
The home side looked certain to score when they laid siege to the French try-line with series of drives after Isaac Ross secured possession at an attacking line-out. But all the forwards’ hard work in retaining the ball was wasted when Isaia Toeava knocked-on as the ball went wide. It seemed to sum up the All Black performance in the first half.
New Zealand were thrown a lifeline just before the break however. First Donald slotted a penalty on 39 minutes before a try from Liam Messam after the hooter put the All Blacks back in the game.
The French were caught flat-footed when Jimmy Cowan chipped ahead, and not out as they expected as the siren went. Cory Jane plucked the ball from the air to break. Messam (Wearing His Adidas World Cup Rugby Boots) was up in support to round off the 70m move and Carisbrook could breathe again. Donald’s conversion attempt was wide, leaving the score 17-11 as the teams heading for the changing rooms.
There was a distinct change in momentum in the second period. The All Blacks displayed much more urgency and were rewarded with an early penalty to reduce to gap to three. Donald’s next attempt soon afterwards bounced off the post but his third kick in twenty minutes found the mark to level the scores at 17-all.
The All Blacks brought Luke McAlister on at inside centre for the last quarter but it was Dupuy who would put France back in the lead with fifteen minutes to play. His penalty provided France’s first points in 37 minutes.
The knock-out blow was soon to follow when full-back Maxime Medard (Wearing His Nike Laser 2 Rugby Boots) intercepted a pass from McAlister and then outpaced him to score under the posts to give France a ten-point lead.
The home side fought back well and Mils Muliaina’s first line-break of the game provided the impetus for Ma’a Nonu to score in the corner with four minutes to play.
But it was too little to late as, once Donald had missed the conversion, the French forwards were able to run down the clock at the death and hand France an historic victory.
For New Zealand:
Pens: Donald 4
Tries: Trinh-Duc, Servat, Medard
Cons: Dupuy 3
New Zealand: 15 Mils Muliaina (c), 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Cory Jane, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Adam Thomson, 6 Kieran Read, 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 John Afoa, 18 Bryn Evans, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Luke McAlister, 22 Lelia Masaga.
France: 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Damien Traille, 11 Cedric Heymans , 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Julien Dupuy, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Romain Millo-Chluski, 4 Pascal Pape, 3 Sylvain Marconnet, 2 William Servat, 1 Fabien Barcella.
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Nicolas Mas, 18 Sebastien Chabal 19 Julien Puricelli, 20 Dimitri Yachvili, 21 Yannick Jauzion, 22 Alexis Palisson.
Date: Saturday, June 13
Venue: Carisbrook, Dunedin
Weather: 8°C. Dry with very light southerly breeze
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Stuart Dickinson (Australia),
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)