Mon, Nov 13, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Awesome All Blacks demolish France

UNSTOPPABLE?On a cold, rainy evening at the Gerland stadium New Zealand ran rigns around next year's would cup hosts, once again underlining their utter dominance

AFP , LYON, FRANCE

All Black center Conrad Smith dives to score a try during the rugby union Test match against France at the Gerland stadium in Lyon, France, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AFP

New Zealand utterly outclassed France on Saturday in the first of two autumn Tests between the two teams, handing the home side an emphatic seven-try 47-3 drubbing.

In an enthralling display that combined ferocious defense with fearless attack, New Zealand made a mockery of the game's billing as a contest between the world's two leading rugby-playing nations.

France looked leaden-footed and predictable, and were completely undone by their first-half tactics of endless, speculative and generally overhit up-and-unders and the odd rolling maul that led nowhere.

New Zealand, showing 10 changes from the side that last week posted a record 41-20 win over reigning world champions England, scored tries though Sitiveni Sivivatu (2), Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Conrad Smith, Joe Rokocoko and Luke McAlister.

Although not flawless with his kicking, Carter amassed 17 points before being replaced with 20 minutes to play.

Man-of-the-match Jerry Collins was full of praise for his teammates.

"At this stage of the season, we are all looking to the World Cup next year and it's important to see what the young players can do," the impressive flanker said.

New Zealand coach Graham Henry said he was "delighted" and rated the performance as "up there with the best."

"We played very well. We're enormously proud of the boys who performed tonight," Henry said.

"They showed a lot of courage and backbone. They weren't only playing for the All Blacks but a lot of people who sacrificed so much," Henry said.

It was a reference to the New Zealanders who lost their lives on European battlefields in the 20th century with the match taking place on Armistice Day.

France coach Bernard Laporte said his team had been "impotent."

"We weren't able to react in any way and we feel very inferior," Laporte said after France had suffered the second heaviest defeat in their history.

New Zealand opened the scoring in the sixth minute, Fijian-born winger Sivivatu taking a slick pass from Collins and side-stepping through two woeful tackles by opposite number Aurelien Rougerie and openside Julien Bonnaire.

Carter missed the conversion but struck a penalty five minutes later after the recalled French No. 8 Elvis Vermeulen strayed offside.

France continued to be penalized heavily by Australian referee Stuart Dickinson for infringing at the scrum and ruck, and Carter missed a 48m penalty attempt when prop Sylvain Marconnet handled at a ruck after 20 minutes.

The home side eventually got on the scoreboard two minutes later when center Florian Fritz landed a 40m drop goal after attempts to break down the All Black defense had floundered.

France then suffered a double blow when captain Fabien Pelous was yellow-carded for holding back Ali Williams and Carter stepped up to slot the penalty over from 43m.

But with Pelous off the pitch, France held firm and even had a chance to pull back three points after New Zealand infringed but scrum-half Dimitri Yachhvili scuffed the easy penalty effort to the groans of the majority of the 41,000-crowd at the Stade Gerland.

In the 35th minute, France lost their own line-out 10m from their line. From the resulting scrum and ruck, McCaw picked up and drove hard under Bonnaire's tackle to touch down. Carter missed the extras.

The immense pressure on the France scrum told on the stroke of half-time.

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