Sun, Jun 03, 2007 - Page 24 News List

All Blacks stumble to win against France

ERRORS GALORE New Zealand did not look like a side fancied to win this year's World Cup in their defeat of an understrength French side yesterday

AFP , AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Piri Weepu leads the All Blacks ``haka ''prior to the first Test between New Zealand and France at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

The All Blacks stumbled their way to a 42-11 victory over a second-tier France side yesterday scoring five tries, but the high error rate saw them squander just as many.

Although the All Blacks had the skill level to dominate possession, they had trouble making passes stick and several scoring opportunities were lost.

Their powerful front row of Carl Hayman, Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock made the French suffer at scrum time, but French locks Pascal Pape and Julien Pierre made life difficult for the All Blacks in the lineouts.

As the All Blacks stuttered through the first half hour, chip kicks to the line eluded the chasers, flying wing Joe Rokocoko was driven back from the line, and an unmarked Piri Weepu knocked on a Keven Mealamu pass in a blindside break.

kickers

The early scoring was left to the kickers with Daniel Carter and Weepu landing penalties for the All Blacks and Benjamin Boyet replying for France in one of their rare forays into All Blacks territory.

It wasn't until the 30th minute that the All Blacks successfully found the tryline for the first time.

With attempts to play wide proving fruitless, Carter fired an inside pass to Rokocoko who stepped into a gap and onpassed to Isaia Toeava who sent Aaron Mauger over.

The All Blacks second try resulted from a comedy of errors as Sitivini Sivivatu twice knocked the ball with his knees as he attempted to gather up a chip kick and eventually beat Thomas Castaignede to the touchdown when the ball was nudged over the line.

When All Blacks lost captain Richie McCaw and flyhalf Carter at half-time with niggling leg injuries, their replacements Rodney So'oialo and Nick Evans brought poise to the performance.

handy penalty

After the All Blacks turned 20-3 ahead, Evans was on the scoreboard minutes after the resumption with a handy penalty, but Boyet immediately replied for France when Ali Williams was penalized for a high tackle.

When France were reduced to 14 men when Boyet was yellow-carded for persistent off-sides, the All Blacks responded immediately when a flick pass by Evans put Sivivatu over for his second try.

But it was a try which served to inspire France who came back with late replacement Jean-Francois Coux crossing over in the corner to narrow the gap to 28-11.

A 40m runaway try by Mauger and a barge over the line by So'oialo, both converted by Evans, completed the scoring.

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