Israel Dagg scored two tries and Dan Carter was pretty accurate with his boot and swift on his feet as New Zealand made easy work from their first half against France en route to a 37-17 win, which wasn’t even that close. The All-Blacks don’t look perfect, but in no way were troubled by a highly disappointing French side after the first few minutes.
The All-Blacks performed the Kapa o Pango Haka, reserved for special occasions. This was more than just a group match for them. After two still lingering losses to the French in knockout stages of the previous World Cup, Richie McCaw’s men were out to win, and win big.
And it was an aggressive start by the French, pinning the All-Blacks back in their 22. Good defense held on in front of the French’s fantastic line-outs and big forward pack. After nine minutes the French hope was over. The moment New Zealand found some room to run, Ma’a Nonu used his speed and strength to create a fantastic try for Adam Thomson.
As if the wind was immediately knocked out of the French sails, the All-Blacks stung with venom each time they were handed an opportunity. France aggression and concentration evaporated, as Israel Dagg proved once again he is the best performer in this World Cup so far. The French couldn’t get a clearing punt for about a minute as the All-Blacks blocked every attempt. Eventually, a line-out led to New Zealand’s next try, through Cory Jane.
Four minutes later? It looked all over – The French defense was exposed again as Carter broke forward, finding Israel Dagg to make it 19-0. Dimitri Yachvili gave France their first points just before half time with a well struck penalty.
Second half began in more French Depression. A move started by Sonny Bill Williams created the space for Dan Carter and later Israel Dagg, scoring his fourth try of the World Cup. New Zealand relaxed from then on, giving France territory and more freedom to start getting something out of this match. Maxime Mermoz scored their first try after a terrible pass from Dan Carter. The tides turning? Somewhat, but not enough. New Zealand gave only what they felt was unnecessary.
Dan Carter scored a drop goal, and even the Trinh-Duc try late in the game didn’t put the party out at Eden Park, with Sonny Bill Williams getting on the scoreboard late in the game, getting a huge roar from the fans, especially the female ones.
France were far from impressive, and only found ways to score after the All-Blacks became complacent, and even their second try came with a bit of controversy as the New Zealand players didn’t seem prepared for the restart. It didn’t really matter eventually.
Beating a big traditional power, especially like France, is a great morale boost for before they close out the group stage. Still, all the tries and impressive displayed in certain halves along the way, coming against Tonga and Japan earlier, don’t really matter. The All-Blacks always look impressive in the group stage. The real test, where the All-Blacks constantly fail, despite having superior quality each time, begins in the Quarter Finals.