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Incentive still strong for France in Dunedin

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    18 Jun 2018     Getty Images

France took great heart out of their effort when reduced to 14-men for 65 minutes of the second Test in Wellington going down 26-13.

France, after their 52-11 loss to New Zealand in the first Test went into the second Test wanting to earn respect and le Roux said they revealed their spirit after losing fullback Bernard Fall to a red card.

Having shown more spirit than in the first Test they feel there was still room to progress. They were disappointed to lose.

"We have one more game to beat them. We must give everything. It's my dream to beat the All Blacks," he said.

It would be the ultimate prize for him, he said. Having had a good season with his club in which they made a European Cup final and a Top 14 semifinal there were no prizes at the end of it all.

"For many of us who have not won anything this season, a win in New Zealand would be magnificent," he said.

"We understood that we needed more cohesion. We didn't want to be seen as idiots for shipping another 50 points. For 14 players against opposition like the All Blacks I think we played pretty well, but we can do even better."

Le Roux felt they suffered in the first Test because they had only a week together. The concentration had been on working on the differences between what was required of them by their clubs and what was needed to play for France.

That work had paid off during their week of preparation for the second Test.

While they talked a lot in building for the first Test there had been less talk before the second and they had concentrated on their training and had got reward from that work, he said.

Wing Gael Fickou said they got closer to the All Blacks and they showed, in spite of having two tries disallowed, that they could break the All Blacks' defensive screen.

"The statistics at the end of the game showed a lot of positives for us. We carried more ball than the All Blacks and that's what gave us our opportunities," he said.

While reduced to 14 men they were ready for the extra workload.

"The All Blacks broke our line several times but we managed to get back and block them. And even if we conceded four tries it was much better than last week [the first Test]. Our state of mind was much better, there was no relaxing, even in numerical inferiority."

However, the All Blacks showed that while they could not play the game they wanted they were still able to win.

"It's a strength of theirs. They are strong, very strong, but we are getting closer," he said.

France had won the possession and territorial statistics but they were too often let down in their execution and failed to take advantage of that, he said.