Fri, Nov 21, 2003 - Page 24 News List

All Blacks win their consolation match

THIRD-PLACE PLAYOFF France and New Zealand were the nations most fans had anticipated seeing in the final following the pool stages, but it was not to be


The All Blacks, from left, Jerry Collins, Doug Howlett, Leon MacDonald, Joe Rokocoko and Mils Muliaina perform the Haka before their playoff match against France at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, yesterday.


The All Blacks made some small atonement for consecutive semifinal upset losses by thrashing France 40-13 yesterday to claim third place at the Rugby World Cup.

The All Blacks went into the third-place playoff on a 22-10 loss to Australia last weekend, which followed four years after a stunning 43-31 defeat to the French in the penultimate round of the 1999 World Cup.

France and New Zealand were the nations most fans had anticipated seeing in the final after the pool stages, but the French flair and 13 players who started the 24-7 semifinal loss to England were missing and the All Blacks lacked their trademark aggression and passion.

The fans were almost as uninspired as the match, with little noise coming from the 62,712 which two-thirds filled Sydney's Olympic stadium.

New Zealand had lost the corresponding match 22-18 to South Africa in 1999 but crossed twice in the first half and four times in the second half to secure third place here.

"We got a few tries there and it was good to see the guys throwing the ball around," said New Zealand captain Reuben Thorne. "We didn't get what we wanted, but the tournament has been great."

French captain Yannick Bru said the New Zealanders were too strong.

"We wanted to make the best game, but the All Blacks were a little bit too good and too fast," said Bru.

It gave the All Blacks a record 52 tries for the tournament.

France had capitalized on All Blacks center Aaron Mauger's fumble inside his owner quarter in the 42nd minute, with winger Pepito Elhorga charging over on an angled run to make the score 14-13.

But the All Blacks replied with three tries in seven minutes to turn a one-point buffer into a 22-point lead. Winger Joe Rokocoko crossed out wide in the 51st after a full-field counter attack and replacement lock Brad Thorne strode over in the 53rd after Steve Devine and Doug Howlett combined to catch the French unaware with a quick line out on the attacking quarterline


* New Zealand 40 (Chris Jack, Doug Howlett, Joe Rokocoko, Brad Thorn, Mils Muliaina, Marty Holah tries, Daniel Carter 4 conversions, Leon MacDonald conversion)

* France 13 (Pepito Elhorga try, Dimitri Yachvili penalty goal, dropped goal, conversion)

* Halftime: 14-6

Fullback Mils Muliaina scored in the 58th after the All Blacks had spread the ball to both flanks and replacement center Daniel Carter landed his fourth conversion to make the score 35-13.

Replacement flanker Marty Holah spun over after dragging three tacklers forward from a lineout 10m out on a determined run in the 73rd minute for the last points of the match.

The first half was uninspiring apart from two two flashes of Carlos Spencer genius, which both resulted in converted tries for the All Blacks.

Dmitri Yachvili, replacing legendary scrumhalf Fabien Galthie who retired after the semis, kicked a penalty and a left-foot dropped goal to keep France in touch at 14-6 at the interval. His conversion in the second half gave him eight points for the match.

Chris Jack crossed for the first points when he palmed off winger David Bory in the 12th minute and strolled over to the left of the uprights.

Spencer sparked the move with an inside ball to Howlett coming off the blind wing. Howlett advanced the ball into the French half and exchanged passes with Leon MacDonald before setting up a ruck deep inside the quarter. No. 8 Jerry Collins unloaded to Jack, who had no problems touching down for his third test try.

Before then, both sides lacked intensity and took some outstandingly bad options. Desperate passes that might have stuck in earlier matches went to ground.

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