Strong French start proved too much to overcome – Foster

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All Blacks coach Ian Foster said he felt the formula had been correct, but the French first half had swayed them away. They came back in the third quarter but needed to do that for longer.


They had slipped away at the end of both the Ireland and France Tests, but Foster added the two teams had produced top-drawer performances against the All Blacks.


The tour, and the experiences of the other Rugby Championship sides in the north, had shown the strength among the top six or seven nations in the world rugby game at the moment, he said.


"It was a heck of an occasion and, congratulations to France. They came out strong. We gave them a couple of opportunities, unnecessarily, but they were good enough to take them. Those early tries [meant] they got their momentum going.


"We wrestled that back in the second half and did a good job in that third quarter to pull ourselves back into the game.


"Perhaps if we'd chased a little bit better when we chipped into their goal-line, and they were smart enough to play and go down the other end, and we ended up with a yellow card – a yellow card and an intercept at the wrong time in the game for us.



"I was proud of the way we came back in that third quarter, and really challenged them, but we weren't good enough to finish it off," he said.


Foster said there was no denying the Ireland and France games had been tough. They were two very good teams who had played well. But Foster felt the response against France was much better.


Teams had played different numbers of Tests in a unique Covid-19 affected year, something reflected in results.


"We've played more than we've ever played. We've won 12 out of 15. I think South Africa lost five Tests, and Australia lost seven Tests. I know that we get judged harshly but, if I reflected on the year, we're making progress, we've got a good base of players now that we're growing, but we're also learning some tough lessons at the end of this long season.


"Big Test matches come down to big moments and we've got to get our composure right and perhaps understand our game a little better. We'll regroup from that and know there is still work to do but we've got some good options now," he said.


"There's a lot of good teams out there at the moment. You've probably got the northern hemisphere teams maybe a little bit undone, and you've got the southern hemisphere teams that have played probably a little too much.



"But, the result is we've got a very even competition, and that's exciting for world rugby and Test matches, not only for the World Cup but for the next 24 months. So, there's lots of work for all of us. But, the good thing is we have got a couple of markers from Ireland and France.


"We also know we've played some good rugby this year as well so we're all progressing in the right way," he said.


Foster said after a tough mental time in 2021, the side needed not to get too downhearted despite the hurt of the losses. The team showed better composure to get back into the game against France. However, they had to deal with the pressure game better than they had been.


Captain Sam Whitelock said the French started well and had a couple of opportunities five [metres] from our line with a couple of maul tries and being a tight forward, that hurt.


"It's something we've had pride in throughout the year, and to give up a couple of easy ones like that definitely hurts," he said.


It was something that showed they needed to get better and evolve in that area.


"We can't allow teams, especially the French, to come away with 14 points so early in the game like that," he said.


There were no excuses for the loss. They had prepared well, but they were unable to execute their plan the way they wanted. They played how they wanted in the third quarter but couldn't sustain it, he said.



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