It’s Game 2 of the 2018 France Tour of New Zealand as we head from Eden Park in Auckland to Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
New Zealand leads the series 1-0 and only needed a win tonight to wrap up the three-match series.
On the other hand, France needs a lot of work to do in trying to regain trust after their 52-11 loss in Auckland last week.
What a start by France when Geoffrey Doumayrou made a stunning offload to Kelian Galletier.
Then Galletier finds back the pass to Doumayrou who touches down home.
However, when we saw the TMO review, he failed to ground the ball properly which saw a misfortune for the visitors.
Though, they did have the three-point lead Morgan Parra’s penalty kick.
It’s going bad to worse for France without a man for the rest of the match
From a denied TRY to a dangerous tackle, France is now with only 14 men for the rest of the match.
It’s not looking good at all when Benjamin Fall aggressively knocked Beauden Barrett down the ground.
So Barrett has to come off & Damian McKenzie immediately rushed on the field to complete B. Barrett’s hard work at Fly-Half.
The All Blacks moved on & built themselves from scratch without Beauden Barrett
Never mind Beauden Barrett, Joe Moody ran all the way by himself even as a loose-head prop to add the All Blacks’ first five points.
Excellent timing from Aaron Smith to correct the pass right & finish off that set piece in style.
It emphasizes that the back rowers are giving their defensive line a chance to finish off the job by themselves.
All Blacks have scored another TRY.
Aaron Smith builds off the pass which isn’t accurate, but another Smith within Ben at the right wing played on.
B. Smith then identified the gap with the French defense going all over the place.
It enabled the right winger to finish one off & secure another All Blacks five points.
Damian McKenzie sets up the attack and finishes one off with a successful conversion himself.
Within one minute before half-time, McKenzie first finds a foundation to build a solid attack to Rieko Ioane.
Ioane chases down & finds an inside ball pass to Anton Lienert-Brown who chased & nearly ran out of space.
But the TRY still goes to the All Blacks when Lienert-Brown finds some help to Jordie Barrett with the beautiful finish on the run home.
Damian McKenzie successfully gets his kick accurate past the posts for the third straight time.
It’s Half-Time as New Zealand leads France by 21-6.
TJ Perenara just came on in the 56th minute where Aaron Smith left off at Scrum-Half for New Zealand.
Perenara finds the first pass onto Ryan Crotty then to McKenzie.
McKenzie, who possesses well as a top quality playmaker at No.10 runs into space before finding some help in Perenara where the French grounded him only meters away from the try line.
But New Zealand’s hopes of adding another big score isn’t over as Anton Lienert-Brown rushed in for help to keep their possession alive.
Then McKenzie comes back with the ball to crack the French territory before Jordie Barrett finally unlocks the visitors’ half for his second try of the night.
The French may have added a score for themselves, but it’s late before the siren rang.
They finally went back to square one and added trouble to the All Blacks side when the referee sin-binned TJ Perenara for playing the wrong side of the tackle.
It caused some leaky discipline for the home side where they did run out of space for big five-pointers.
So, that gave the visitors a cameo to savor.
Brilliant demonstration to get the line-out right from the French as the maul stayed square.
It allowed the referee to give the advantage as Pierre Bougarit made a brilliant chase on the run home.
However, you got to give credit to Ben Smith at the right wing for New Zealand who mauled & denied him the five points.
Though, in the 80th minute, the visitors created a well-structured set piece play when you see both Alexandre Lapandry & Baptiste Serin playing together.
Then Serin called in on Kevin Gourdon before Cedate Gomes Sa finished off with a consolation try as Jules Plisson completes the successful kick for another two points.
FULL-TIME: New Zealand 26-13 France
- Joe Moody (12′)
- Ben Smith (19′)
- Jordie Barrett (39′, 55′)
- Damian McKenzie (13′,19′,40′)
- Cedate Gomes Sa (80′)
- Jules Pilsson, 1/1, (81′)
- Morgan Parra, 2/2, (10′, 30′)
Looking at the All Blacks, the whole squad did a magnificent job even without Beauden Barrett.
That man you’re looking at is a young gun in Damian McKenzie who plays for the Chiefs in Super Rugby.
The tries he set up aren’t not only for himself but others who made three five-points scores from last night:
- Joe Moody, big on power with a robust speed that the French cannot nail him down
- Ben Smith, possesses full speed which blindsided the opposition defense into sideways, allowing him to complete an easy TRY.
- Jordie Barrett, runs everywhere who always comes in to help at the right time to finish off where his team-mates are out of puff.
As Beauden Barrett is out, you don’t need to worry too much about a replacement when it comes to showcasing pure Kiwi young talent.
The French played their part but needs to be more flexible next time
Though, the only downsize the All Blacks need to work on is discipline.
When TJ Perenara had to come off for ten minutes, they dearly missed his presence.
It enabled the French to create pressure which the home team failed to win turnovers.
That’s probably the reason why the All Blacks didn’t do much late last night.
Instead, you see the visiting team playing together towards the very end of the match by securing the late try.
France played their part very well in the 2nd Half by bonding the whole group together and creating set pieces.
But the visitors need to be a bit more flexible with their defense because the All Blacks can bite off their back any minute.
Just look at their massive 52-11 loss in Game 1 at Eden Park last week.
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France now head to Dunedin for their third and final match of the 2018 June tour next week.
New Zealand host the visitors at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Will France fight one back with a consolation win with a 2-1 finish?
Or can the All Blacks clean the mop and make it 3-0?
Find out on Saturday at 4.30 PM AEST LIVE on FOX Sports 501.