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France can lift another 20 percent

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Sportal.co.nz     10 Jun 2013     Getty Images

That's the belief of coach Philippe Saint-Andre after his side's 13-23 loss to New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday, a loss that could so easily have been a draw had No.8 Louis Picamoles been able to pull in a difficult pass just out from an unguarded All Blacks' goal-line.

The French could close the game, Saint-Andre said, but they needed to be more clinical.

"We were not clinical enough and we know New Zealand will be better and better and the second Test will be tougher," he said.

Most importantly for France, however, was the improvement from this year's disappointing Six Nations campaign.

He said had France been able to play in the Six Nations as they had against the All Blacks they would not have finished last.

"We posed some problems against New Zealand. I think we were good in the contact area," he said.

There were likely to be changes to the French side with players who had been involved in the Top 14 final having arrived. Two of them, five-eighths Frederic Michalak and centre Maxime Mermoz appeared late in the game when coming off the bench.

With injury to halfback Maxime Machenaud, who suffered a corked thigh, there was a chance that Michalak would be included as halfback cover for the side. Also injured was flanker Fulgence Quedraogo who had a blow to his ankle.

France will play the Blues at Auckland's North Harbour Stadium on Tuesday night, and will travel to Christchurch on Thursday for the second Test.