France pulverize hapless New Zealand

·3-min read

France swept past a witlessly sloppy New Zealand side in two waves on Saturday night at the Stade de France to underline their credentials as one of the favourites for the 2022 Six Nations Championship as well as the rugby World Cup in 2023.

A pulsating match ended 40-25 as France beat the illustrious visitors for the first time in 14 games spanning 12 years.

The French - fielding their star midfield pairing of Antoine Dupont at scrum half and Romain Ntamack at fly-half - started in a hurry.

They scored in their first surge upfield. Peato Mauvaka touched down following a ruck on the left touch line. Barely three minutes had passed.

Melvyn Jaminent added the conversion to fire the crowd. Two quick penalties from Jordie Barrett brought it back to a one point deficit at 7-6.

Ntamack scored France's second try of the night with a dash of panache. The 22-year-old faked a pass to the outside before evading two tackles with a side-step and diving over near the posts to set up an easy conversion for Jaminet.

France then piled on the points and went in at half-time leading 24-6, Mauvaka having added his second of the night.

Would such raggedness continue from the comically static visitors?

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The New Zealand response came after the break. Barrett went over for a try followed by Rieko Ioane. When Barrett added the conversion to Ardie Savea's try, it was 27-25 and game on.

But New Zealand indiscipline stopped the resurgence. Savea was shown a yellow card and sin-binned for slowing play down. Jaminet was able to convert the ensuing penalty to make it 30-25

Four minutes later, Damian Penaud's interception and try under the posts effectively ended the contest at 37-25.

In the final minutes, both sides of the stadium were singing La Marseillaise and Jaminet rounded off an impressive performance with a penalty at the end to take his points tally up to 20 and France to 40.

"Not the way we wanted to finish our year," said New Zealand captain Samuel Whitelock.

"France got out and scored early and that made it tough for us. No excuses at all,

"They were better than us. It hurts to say that but we’ve got to hold on to that feeling because we don’t want to feel it again."

Three quarters of the 79,000 in the stadium stayed for the lap of honour and to savour France's first win over the All Blacks since a 27-22 victory in a mid-year rugby tour in Dunedin in 2009.

"Thank you so much," Ntamack said to the fans after the match. "We had a tough moment when they started to come back but we made it thanks to you and we're so happy to share this victory with you."

New Zealand have dished out some pummellings on the French since the last triumph - most notably the 62-13 annihilation in the quarter-final at the 2015 rugby World Cup.

France will host the next edition of that tournament in two years. A similar scoreline to Saturday night's in the final would go down well with the partisans.

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