All Blacks' pace was too much for France

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    24 Jun 2018     Getty Images

Limping home after a 3-0 defeat in the Steinlager Series, and a 49-14 loss in Dunedin on Saturday, the French had been competitive at stages of each of the Tests but had been undone by the All Blacks ability to turn on the pace at the right moments.

During the series the All Blacks scored 19 tries to France's four.

France's coach Jacques Brunel said France had lost the battle of speed.

"We were in rhythm in the first half. We were enterprising and the score could have been even at the break," he said.

He was disappointed Damian McKenzie's try was awarded in spite of the referee impeding French replacement halfback Baptiste Serin.

Brunel said it seemed to him there had been some interference and that should have been taken into account.

"It seemed so obvious to me that I did not understand this decision," he said.

Brunel said the French were 'over-revving' at one stage and when the All Blacks accelerated they also tried to speed up, but they should have remained at their own tempo.

France had only been able to take the All Blacks on at their speed game in stages.

"I do not know if others are able to do it, but on this tour we have not been able to do it," he said.

After their improvement in the second Test, Brunel said he was disappointed they had not been able to get closer in the third.

"I am very satisfied with our first half, especially on offence because it is the most difficult to implement. We planned some interesting tactics and some worked. There are good things to keep for the future," he said.

Brunel said France came to New Zealand wanting to build on what had worked well for them during the Six Nations tournament, including their defence. But they had not been able to achieve the same level of performance.

There had not been the same level of communication because different players were involved and there were some small things that had not worked so well as they did during the Six Nations.

"We will have to work to find our coherence and our cohesion," he said.

Benefits from the tour had been twofold. It had been interesting to see how several players who hadn't appeared in the Six Nations performed against the quality of opposition provided by the All Blacks and there were aspects of the games that had been interesting.

The second Test had been the most competitive and offered the most for the future and that is what he would remember from the tour, he said.

First five-eighths Anthony Belleau said while the score was heavy he didn't think it was a true reflection. But he acknowledged the collective strength of the All Blacks.

"When they decide to accelerate, it's not a single player, there are three around him," he said.

"When they accelerate, there are many options around the ball runner that make the ball live and the momentum shifts so quickly. We must keep pace and break their ability to be dynamic. We have allowed them the chance to play their fast game," he said.

Belleau acknowledged his opposite Damian McKenzie's game.

"He had a great game, brought a lot of speed. He always has options to exploit. As individuals I think we are able to compete, we all know how to play rugby but where the difference lies is on the All Blacks' collective strength. That's really what we need to work on," he said.

France needed to progress as a result of the tour, to improve their continuity play in defence and on attack. The first Test had been the biggest lesson for the side, he said.