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Step up works well for All Blacks

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Sportal.co.nz     24 Sep 2011     Getty Images

It was a worthy celebration not only of Richie McCaw's 100th appearance, a match in which he typically led the way with some stirring charges into the French defence, but also of the 50th match between the two countries – with New Zealand extending their wins to 37.

McCaw spent much of the game as a No.8 which allowed flanker Adam Thomson to perform in the openside flanker role. It was an impressive display of variation, especially with an eye to the tournament's future. However, Thomson left the field with an injury with eight minutes remaining

The French experiment of playing halfback Morgan Parra at fly-half foundered on his inability to take the ball to the line, leaving France to be persistently caught behind the advantage line.

When added to the counter-rucking of the New Zealanders at the breakdown, it resulted in little chance for the French to get their flowing backplay going.

Incorrect throwing to the lineout, re-starts that didn't go 10m and several dropped balls made it an unimpressive display from the French.

New Zealand also opted for a solid scrummaging workout, several times taking scrums instead of kicks from both penalties and free-kicks.

Aided by a clever display from fly-half Dan Carter, who kicked 12 points, and a powerful first-half especially from Ma'a Nonu at inside-centre, there was too much class for the disappointing French side.

New Zealand withstood some early attacking sorties from France but once winning their own throw to a lineout, the opportunities came.

A long throw was tidied by New Zealand and after an initial dab around the ruck by halfback Piri Weepu the ball was moved to Nonu. He took a big gap, side-stepped through another and then raced toward the goal-line.

While tackled, the ball was quickly cleared and quick hands from Carter saw Thomson score in the corner in the ninth minute.

Seven minutes later, a clean take at the back of the lineout by Sam Whitelock, one of several sound takes in a fine display, resulted in a delayed inside pass from Weepu to blindside wing Corey Jane. He sliced through a huge gap and then beat his mark Maxime Medard with a change of pace and a fend to score.

In the 20th minute another ruck created after a Nonu burst saw quick ball again and it was Carter who slid through with ease and with only centre Aurelien Rougerie in defence, Carter was able to offload to the supporting Dagg for the try. New Zealand after absorbing the early French assault had moved the score to 19-0.

France opened its scoring two minutes from half-time when halfback Dimitri Yachvili landed a penalty goal after Jerome Kaino was penalised, although it appeared more like a football Hollywood.

Jane was forced to leave the field near the end of the half with an injury and was replaced by Sonny Bill Williams.

France made three changes at the break but it made little difference as Williams charged onto a ball, made room for an offload to Carter and he then found Kahui in support and while tackled the ball was moved left where McCaw set up another ruck and it was Dagg who broke the defence, easily, to score.

In the 54th minute inside-centre Mermoz secured an intercept to race 35m to score.

Carter took the chance to hone his drop goal kicking to land a 63rd minute goal.

After a series of scrums on the line a quick penalty saw replacement back Francois Trinh-Duc catch the New Zealanders napping to score.

The lesson was quickly heeded as from the re-start, replacement lock Ali Williams grabbed the kick, charged into space fed replacement wing Colin Slade.

A ruck was formed and the ball moved back across field where Sonny Bill Williams scored in the opposite corner.

New Zealand 37
Tries: Thomson, Jane, Dagg 2, SB Williams
Con: Carter 3
Pen: Carter
Dropped goal: Carter

France 17
Try: Mermoz, Trinh-Duc
Con: Yachvili 2
Pen: Yachvili
HT: 19-3