New Zealand managed to claim a 28-23 victory over a France XV in an entertaining contest at Parc Olympique Lyonnais on Tuesday.
Crossings from Liam Squire, Matt Duffie, Patrick Tuipulotu and Ngani Laumape got the All Blacks the victory but they held on in the end.
For France, Gabriel Lacroix (2) and Henry Chavancy claimed their five-pointers but they’ll know they could’ve made it a winning evening.
It was an entertaining first 40 in Lyon as France recovered from Squire’s 10th minute try, which was set up by a pass from Jack Goodhue.
Sopoaga converted the try but France were level five minutes later when Francois Trinh-Duc knocked over the extras to Lacroix’s crossing.
The end-to-end action continued when slick handling led to David Havili setting up Duffie on the right. But soon after, a stray pass was gobbled up by Lacroix near to his own 22 and he set off for a sprint to the line, beating Lima Sopoaga to the chalk as France now trailed 14-12.
Trinh-Duc though made amends for his conversion miss when adding a penalty on 36 minutes as France went in with their noses in front.
New Zealand went close to scoring through Nathan Harris but the TMO’s intervention stated that the visitors were in touch in the lead up. They were only denied for two minutes though as lock Tuipulotu got over to move his side back in front, with the extras making it 21-15.
One sensed the visitors were about to turn the screw and when Laumape barged over Vincent Rattez on 55 minutes it became 28-15.
Replacement fly-half Jules Plisson managed to reduce the gap to 10 points via a penalty goal and with Goodhue sent to the sin-bin with 10 minutes remaining, the French were very much back in the match and had their tails up. That seemed highly unlikely 15 minutes earlier.
Not now as flank Sekou Macalou’s break ended up with Chavancy finishing off and suddenly France were only five points behind at 28-23.
But New Zealand managed to hold off any further home attacks as the returning Goodhue booted the ball out with time up to seal the win.
For France XV:
Tries: Lacroix 2, Chavancy
Pens: Trinh-Duc, Plisson
For New Zealand:
Tries: Squire, Duffie, Tuipulotu, Laumape
Cons: Sopoaga 3, Mo’unga
Yellow Card: Goodhue