'Old-fashioned' All Blacks show French the way

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    14 Nov 2017     Getty Images

France had been looking for signs of a revival in their side after the disappointments in their game since their 62-13 thrashing by the All Blacks in the World Cup quarter-final in Cardiff in 2015.

Their second half effort in denying the All Blacks all but a last-minute try won some praise, but it was the play of the New Zealanders that had the French talking.

Le Monde's 'old-fashioned rugby' description was applied to the first half try scored by flanker Sam Cane with his classic support play being rewarded after sharp work by fullback Damian McKenzie and wing Rieko Ioane.

"It was all produced at very high intensity, alternating power and speed, technically executed perfectly despite the rain. Beauden Barrett, the first five-eighths, played a key role in the quiet soundness of his game. He passed a long ball directly to the wing [Waisake Naholo] who was prepared and who score. Precise and without flourish," it said.

While France had started with fire and had put so much energy into their first scrum to roll back the All Blacks pack to lift their confidence it had been 'naïve belief'.

"As if the New Zealand pack, whose old warriors have seen so many others, was going to be destabilized significantly by an incident of this nature. Suddenly, the French scrum suffered a rain of penalties and had their tighthead Slimani on a yellow card."

The French had been as anonymous in the rucks as in their first half defence while they had opted not to take penalty goals when they had the chance.

"Playing the All Blacks, it is better to take the few points available," it said.

While the All Blacks had not been as ruthless as in the 2015 World Cup game, the 2017 version had been dominant during the first half by having 64 percent of possession and occupying French territory for 73 percent of the game.

The French side's experienced players, hooker Guilhem Guirado, No.8 Louis Picamoles and centre Matieu Bastareaud were expected to lead the way but it was the debutants who shone with half back Antoine Dupont creating some panic for the All Blacks.

The French managed the game badly, the newspaper said.

They wasted opportunities to score, lacked clear thinking and while their game is being reconstructed on the backs of a new generation of players, it was a fact that the domestic competition, the Top 14, did not lift players to compete at international level.