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France seeking defensive answers

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    11 Jun 2018     Getty Images

France were reeling after their vaunted defence was cut to ribbons by the All Blacks in their 52-11 win.

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Coach Jacques Brunel told Midi Olympique: "I do not know if this match is truly representative of the difference between the two teams. I hope we will be able to show another face in Wellington to stay in the fight until the end of the game."

Replacement Gael Fickou recalled to the French media that on the 2014 France tour to Australia when beaten 23-50 in the first Test, they tightened the game to lose 0-6 in the second.

"Compared to the effort we put in throughout the week, the loss was terribly frustrating. We must do better, we deserve better," he said.

Improving the defence in Wellington would be the key. They needed to be more compact and be better spaced across the field.

They had seen that when they pushed the All Blacks with their defensive line, the All Blacks did not pass. But when France relaxed the All Blacks got behind them.

"When you're five or 10 metres behind, it's hard to pick up those players. By the time you turn around they are already 10m in front of you. Teddy [Thomas] had the speed to pull [Rieko] Ioane in although the latter scored.

"We have the speed but it is easier if we stop them being able to use it rather than trying to catch them after they have broken through," he said.
"At the end of the game we were too tight. We tried to defend by controlling but against players like the All Blacks it was impossible. And then fatigue caused communication problems," he said.

By trying to control the All Blacks they had only gone half-measure which allowed All Blacks first five-eighths Beauden Barrett the time to make the right decisions.

"Barrett was given too much time. From the pictures it is obvious. He had time to sail, to watch and to adjust his game. If we leave him one or two seconds that is way too much. If he is attacked he doesn't have time to do all that.

"Sometimes we managed to do it but next Saturday it will take 80 minutes," he said.

French first five-eighths Anthony Belleau said his side showed two faces. In the first half they did things simply but effectively but in the second half, almost before they were out of the dressing room, they allowed the All Blacks to impose their rhythm on the game.

"The final score was heavy but does not reflect the preparation we did, nor our state of mind. We put a lot of heart into everything we did. That's why we have to remember the first half and keep in a corner of our mind that which didn't work.

"This defeat must serve as a lesson," he said.

Belleau said he didn't think the All Blacks were unbeatable, the first half had shown that but that wasn't enough.

The All Blacks had been upset to be down at the break and France had fallen asleep in the second half. Now it was a case of recovering well and then take what was good from their game. If they didn't it would be a tough two weeks ahead, he said.