It was one of the classic France test matches we have been longing for some time now and the men in blue produce it on Saturday night, outclassing the All Blacks on their own game.
France was just brilliant on the night and although the All Blacks came back at them in the second half they just could not handle the pressure the French team put on them throughout the match. It was first South African, then Ireland and now France that showed the All Blacks do not like to be hit back and struggle to absorb the ‘in your face” approach all three of these teams showed this year against them.
France had a magical start to the test match putting the All Blacks under all sort of pressure which they just could not handle and as with the Irish last week had to play catchup rugby from the start.
The All Blacks for years have been feeding off other teams mistakes and their problem at the moment is that the other teams have become better and don’t give away easy opportunities which makes the All Blacks look ordinary.
Some serious questions will be asked about Foster and his selections but most of all the All Blacks seemed to have stayed behind where most of the top teams have evolved.
Mauvaka scored two tries for the host as they eventually beat the All Blacks 40-25 on Saturday night.
It was that first half that sink the All Blacks with a dream start for the French when they scored three tries to lead 24-6 at the break. Mauvaka scored the first try early in the match which send out the signs that France was ready to play the game.
They smothered the All Blacks in that first half giving them nothing except two penalties which Barrett knocked over. Ntamack who got the number ten jumper for the game showed his class throughout the match. The first try came after just three minutes after a great maul against the New Zealanders.
The All Blacks had their chances but France defence was brilliant on the night and reduce them to only two penalty for their efforts.
A brilliant break from Penaud saw Ntamack slide through the All Blacks defence with some brilliant stepping. That gave France a 14-6 lead. A penalty a few minutes later by Jaminet stretch the lead to 11 points.
The French got their third try before halftime when Mauvaka got over for his second of the match. The conversion went over which gave the home side a great 24-6 lead.
One always expected the All blacks to come back in the match and they did that with some brilliant play from Aaron Smith. Dan Coles was the first man over for the All Blacks. The All Blacks was right back in the match when Ioane was put in space to run in a 60 meter try for the All Blacks. That reduced France lead to only 24-18.
France was struggling a bit to get the same control in the match as they did in the first half and the All Blacks came within two points after Savea powered over the line with Barrett converting his try.
Then the French did what French rugby teams do and started to run the ball from behind their own goal line to get back into the All Blacks twenty two with some brilliant feet and hands which saw Savea getting a yellow card and Jaminet kicking the penalty to extend the lead to 30-25.
It was if the French got their second wind after that and put the All Blacks under huge pressure again to force them to run the ball deep in their own half which founded Penaud hands who intercepted the pass and streaked away.
That gave the home side a 12 point lead and in total control of the match.
They got a final penalty over to secure a memorable win over the All Blacks 40-25 which was their first since 1973 in Paris. The French ended a huge message out to the world that they will be hard to beat come World Cup 2023 and teams will have to take notice.
For the All Blacks it was really a poor year with wins against Tonga, Australia, Argentina and the USA but they did not really convince against the Springboks, Ireland and even Wales who had to pick a second string team earlier on the tour. The All Blacks is not that unbeaten team anymore and their will be some serious discussion going on in New Zealand to find the answers and only time will tell what they will do next year.
France: Tries – Mauvaka(2), Ntamack, Penaud Conversions – Jaminet(4) Penalties – Jaminet(4)
All Blacks: Tries – Barrett, Ioane Conversions – Barrett(2) Penalties – Barrett(2)