Third Test Preview: All Blacks v France

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Andy Burt     21 Jun 2018     Getty Images

Match details: All Blacks v France, Saturday 23 June, 7.35pm, Forsyth-Barr Stadium, Dunedin. TICKETS.

Matches played: 60
All Blacks won: 47
France won: 12
Draw: 1
Last Match: All Blacks 26, France 13 (June 16, 2018)
Largest All Blacks winning margin: 61-10 (2007)

There’s key changes in both outfits for the final Test. The All Blacks are set to welcome four new Test caps in Shannon Frizell and Jack Goodhue in the starting line-up and Jackson Hemopo and Richie Mo’unga on the bench. With Beauden Barrett out due to concussion, Damian McKenzie will start in the pivotal playmaker role. There’s a big revamp in the midfield with Sonny Bill Williams and Jack Goodhue getting the nod ahead of Ryan Crotty and Anton Lienert-Brown. Waisake Naholo returns to the right wing with Ben Smith shifting to fullback and Jordie Barrett moving to the bench. France have sprung a surprise with skipper Mathieu Bastareaud dropped from the squad and classy midfielder Wesley Fofana returning for the first time in 2018. Veteran halfback Morgan Parra steps up to captain the side in what will likely be his last appearance in New Zealand. 


France will feel aggrieved by two decisions that cost them heavily in the first two Tests. In Auckland, it was a questionable yellow-card to lock Paul Gabrillagues that sent the score line spiralling from 11-11 to 52-11. But things got even more controversial in the second Test when fullback Benjamin Fall was red-carded in just the 12th minute for a dangerous challenge on Beauden Barrett. It was effectively game over at that point but France battled courageously to keep the final margin to 26-13. The judiciary has since cancelled Benjamin Fall’s red card, citing a nudge from Anton Lienert-Brown as the reason why Fall changed his line and bumped Barrett in mid-air. There’s no doubting that decision has added more motivation for Coach Jacques Brunel and his side in the lead-up to the third and final Test. 

The All Blacks have never beaten France in Dunedin, losing the only Test they have played there 27-22 in 2009. Former All Blacks wing Cory Jane suffered his first loss in an All Blacks jersey in that encounter and said you can never underestimate the French spirit or resolve. “It was my first loss for the All Blacks. At that moment I realised the difference between playing for New Zealand and your (Super Rugby) franchise. When you lose for your franchise it sucks. I hate losing like the next guy. But it’s your franchise. So that region is in mourning. When you lose for the All Blacks - New Zealand shuts down.” Jane said.


Joe Moody and Uini Atonio are set for one final battle upfront. The powerhouse pair have waged an epic scrum war in the opening two Tests. Moody, the former amateur wrestling champion, is an imposing 120kgs but is shaded by the 150kg behemoth Atonio. To add further spice to this encounter, both players were born in the South Island with Moody born in Christchurch and Atonio born in Timaru. Moody impressed with a great solo try in the second Test but will need to be on top of his game with Atonio desperate to finish the tour of his birth-country on a high.

With his 31st try last weekend, Ben Smith is now joint tenth on the All Blacks try-scoring list.

TEAMS (*indicates Test debut)
All Blacks:
1. Joe Moody 2. Codie Taylor 3. Owen Franks 4. Sam Whitelock (C) 5. Scott Barrett 6. Shannon Frizell* 7. Ardie Savea 8. Luke Whitelock 9. Aaron Smith 10. Damian McKenzie 11. Rieko Ioane 12. Sonny Bill Williams 13. Jack Goodhue* 14. Waisake Naholo 15. Ben Smith
Reserves: 16. Liam Coltman, 17. Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18. Ofa Tuungafasi, 19. Jackson Hemopo*, 20. Matt Todd, 21. TJ Perenara, 22. Richie Mo’unga*, 23. Jordie Barrett

France: 1.Dany Priso, 2.Camille Chat, 3.Uini Atonio, 4.Bernard le Roux, 5.Yoann Maestri, 6.Mathieu Babillot, 7.Kevin Gourdon, 8.Kelian Galletier, 9.Morgan Parra (captain), 10.Anthony Belleau, 11.Gael Fickou, 12.Wesley Fofana, 13.Remi Lamerat, 14.Teddy Thomas, 15.Benjamin Fall.
Reserves: 16.Adrien Pelissie, 17.Cyril Baille, 18.Cedate Gomes Sa, 19.Felix Lambey, 20.Alexandre Lapandry, 21.Baptiste Serin, 22.Jules Plisson, 23.Maxime Medard.