All Blacks pace swamps French endeavour

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Lynn McConnell     23 Jun 2018     Getty Images

Reflecting the way they were able to utilise their own strengths of speed and accuracy, the All Blacks had fast men wing Rieko Ioane score a hat-trick and first five-eighths Damian McKenzie score twice while also adding seven conversions for a 24-point haul.
Very much in the game at 14-21 down at halftime, France once again lacked the finish to put the All Blacks under pressure while the youthful New Zealanders showed their potency.

Ioane made his impact on the scoreboard but lock Scott Barrett marked his arrival as a key force by doing his talking with an outstanding display around the field, ripping the ball from French clutches twice, featuring in key plays with ball in hand while also making key tackles.

French flanker Kelian Galletier and hooker Camille Chat were vigorous in the forward exchanges while second five-eighths Wesley Fofana and wings Gael Fickou and Teddy Thomas were always dangerous with the ball in hand.

The tourists never stopped trying and return home with New Zealanders appreciating the way their game has advanced.

Replacement halfback Baptiste Serin made the most of replacing captain Morgan Parra in the 11th minute when he was off for an HIA which he failed. France had twice been unable to take advantage of All Blacks' mistakes. The first when lock Barrett threw a poor pass as they looked to move the ball after the kick-off and the second after a pass from McKenzie was intercepted. France put the ball through 21 phases but were still unable to score.

However, when McKenzie kicked out of his own 22m area to land, the ball rolled on and on over the deadball line resulting in a scrum from which the French built after a good run by flanker Kelian Galletier created the chance for Serin to score.

A French penalty was conceded in the 14th minute and the All Blacks kicked to the corner and while the lineout win was messy, the ball was secured. Captain and lock Sam Whitelock made a strong run off a ruck which set Ioane up with a running chance. Stopped short of the line, the ball was moved back to the right where fullback Ben Smith raced into a gap and over for the equalising try.

Replacements from both sides made early impacts as Jackson Hemopo came on while Shannon Frizell had a cut to his eye attended to. From a lineout drive where Hemopo took the lineout throw, it was replacement Matt Todd, who had only been on for a few minutes after Ardie Savea was forced off with a leg injury, that was propelled over the line from the maul for the try.

France used their passing skills to keep the ball alive with special effect to create momentum which built perfectly as Fofana demonstrated his class to twice feature in the build up to the 27th minute try he scored.

McKenzie's 31st minute try from a scrum in midfield on France's 22m line was awarded in spite of a claim from Serin that he had been obstructed in atttempting to make the tackle by referee John Lacey. After consulting the footage Lacey was happy with the try and awarded it.

Resorting to more forward driving in the second half, the All Blacks pack committed the French defence more often while also punishing their poor lineout.

McKenzie scored his second try, in the 46th minute, a fine effort created by good liaison between the forwards before No.8 Luke Whitelock set McKenzie into space where his speed was too much for the forward defenders.

But the classic powerplay came from the All Blacks in the 52nd minute when they drove a lineout which saw the Sonny Bill Williams-McKenzie double act unleashed - this time the variation came into play with Ioane taking an inside pass from McKenzie to put his speed to use to score his second.

Debut flanker Shannon Frizell had a try over-ruled by the TMO but from the resulting scrum a long ball across the backline to Ioane saw him cross for his hat-trick.

Scorers: New Zealand 49 (Ben Smith, Matt Todd, Damian McKenzie 2, Rieko Ioane 3 tries; McKenzie 7 con) France 14 (Baptiste Serin, Wesley Fofana tries; Anthony Belleau 2 con). HT: 21-14