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Destructive All Blacks show champion style

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Alastair Eykyn | 15:04 UK time, Saturday, 24 September 2011

Auckland

Have we caught an early glimpse of the future world champions? I believe we might.

It took New Zealand just eight minutes to break the French. It's easy to say with hindsight, but it's the truth. From the moment fly-half Dan Carter put boot to ball to clear downfield after an inspired French opening, the visitors were done for.

The All Blacks were intent on displaying why they are the hot favourites to lift the Webb Ellis trophy.

Marc Lievremont's side had begun as we had all hoped they would. Fired by their successful history in the fixture, fired perhaps also by the stinging criticism of their selections by the local media, they set about opening up the Kiwi chicken coop.

After three minutes, Morgan Parra dropped for goal. As the makeshift fly-half contorted his face in frustration, the ball struck the upright and rebounded underneath the posts.

Louis Picamoles reached high for it, but the All Blacks full-back Israel Dagg wrestled it from his grasp, and released the pressure. It was a moment seemingly frozen in time. France needed to score early to drive belief through their ranks. They had nothing to show for their efforts.

Undeterred, a few minutes later Parra popped a clever cross-field kick towards the hulking Damien Traille on the left wing. Cory Jane's tackle five metres from the tryline was critical, even if it appeared he had taken out the Frenchman in the air.

Cory Jane's tackle on France full-back Damien Traille denied France an early score. Picture: Getty

After eight minutes, New Zealand had hardly touched the ball. They were clinging on, stretching every sinew to live with the impassioned French start. When they finally
saw the precious white pigskin, Carter made sure his kick provided the All Blacks with plenty of room to breathe.

What followed was a remarkable response, from a special New Zealand team. Perhaps we will reflect in four weeks' time that it was in fact a champion response.

In their famous semi-final at the World Cup of 1999, France had scored three tries in a blistering second-half spell which undid the All Black challenge. This time the roles were reversed; this Black blitz at Eden Park featured three tries in just 11 minutes.

No-one at the World Cup has yet found a way to stop Ma'a Nonu. Outstanding all night, he announced himself with a typical bustling burst through the midfield, and the ball was whipped wide for Adam Thomson to touch down.

Cory Jane was next on the scoresheet, ripping through the defence after the softest of delayed passes from scrum-half Piri Weepu. Carter's brilliant 'show and go' let Israel Dagg in for the third. Three quick tries; France shredded. It was 19-0 to New Zealand and there was only 21 minutes on the clock.

The All Black magic was sustained after the break. Dagg's second came thanks to a trademark bust from Sonny Bill Williams and - needless to say - the offload, which found Carter in support. There was a heady cocktail of Kiwi talent on show, and they were enjoying the stage.

The France coach Marc Lievremont said afterwards that he was happy that his side hadn't panicked. They at least made the scoreline respectable with an intercept try from Maxime Mermoz, and Francois Trinh-Duc's opportunist score from a quick tap penalty. The game had threatened to become a complete humiliation.

Appropriately perhaps, the All Blacks had the final say. Ali Williams' brilliant gather at the re-start resulted in Sonny Bill Williams finding his way over in the corner. In amongst all this, Dan Carter had popped over only the fourth drop-goal of his international career.

It is worth mentioning in the light of New Zealand's inability to summon a drop-goal to finish off France at the last World Cup in 2007. The world's best fly-half has been practising, just in case the tactic is required in a tight squeeze later on. On this evidence, it is in full working order, as is his previously troublesome lower back.

It was a destructive performance from New Zealand, who have now declared their hand. We have seen the real All Black side, and even their doubters must recognise that it is a genuine force to be reckoned with.

The victory will parachute them into the arguably tougher 'southern hemisphere' section of the knockout stages. Argentina, South Africa and Australia are likely to lie in wait. The French path now becomes a familiar one, with the prospect of a quarter-final against England or Scotland, and most likely Ireland or Wales in the semis.

Richie McCaw is presented with a special cap in recognition of his 100th Test by former All Blacks captain Jock Hobbs. Picture: Getty

It was a fitting way for Richie McCaw to celebrate his 100th international appearance. The open-side flanker has now become the first All Black to that milestone. He has also helped banish the memories of those painful defeats to France at the World Cups of 1999 and 2007.

To see him accept his commemorative cap from the legendary former New Zealand captain Jock Hobbs after the game was to witness a special moment. Hobbs announced last May that he had been diagnosed with a form of leukaemia. This was his first high-profile public appearance since resigning from the NZRU and the World Cup organising body in December.

"I have got a huge amount of respect for that fella" said McCaw afterwards. "For him to come out and say those words and present that cap, I couldn't think of a better man to be able to do that and to receive it from".

There is still much rugby to be played. But on the evidence of this victory over France, McCaw may be back in a similar position at Eden Park in a month's time, clutching something rather shinier in his giant paws.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Yes the ABs looked good but its still the pool games. Dont think some of the other teams will give them that much room to attack either.

    Dan Carter at last showed his full bag of tricks, even a drop goal but for me Conrad Smith, Kip Kaino and Ma'a Nonu have been the standout for NZ so far. How do they get SBW on the park at the same time as Nonu as they are looking a real handful.

    Not convinced yet that Dagg is the right man at the back in the knockouts.

    100 tests for Ritchie Mc Caw is quite an achievement but that cap looks a bit schoolboy to me.

  • Comment number 2.

    Lievremont also deserves some credit for this victory. Parra at No 10. was a complete disaster! Most of the AB tries in the first half came from exploiting this weakness. France looked more shapely with Trinh Duc on in the second half. All Blacks scrum was markedly more shaky without Brad Thorn - opponents will pick up on this and their lineout was nervous stuff! But their backs are proving too hard to live with at the moment. Can't really blame the opposition. I've seen lots of comments about French missing first up tackles in this game but can you not but be mesmerised at the sight of Carter, Nonu, Dagg, Kahui and Sony Bill running at you!! It was at times sheer poetry! Absolute art!

  • Comment number 3.

    'Cory Jane's tackle five metres from the tryline was critical, even if it appeared he had taken out the Frenchman in the air. '

    Seriously?!

    If Jane was playing for any team bar the All Blacks that was a yellow card for tackling a guy mid air, and probably saving a try by doing so. The critical point was that the ref was happy to let it go unpunished, had the AB's conceded the penalty and gone down to 14 having not really touched the ball it would have been game on. If the ref somehow failed to spot it, then the touch judge who was 2 feet away had no excuse. Absolutely shocking officiating.

    Probably wouldn't have had any effect on the result, but if that's what home advantage means for the All Blacks then the cup is as good as theirs.

  • Comment number 4.

    Of course NZ won, this was the pool stages with no pressure and nothing to lose. When the heat is on in the knockout stages and the physicality is ramped up a few notches they will come unstuck as usual.

    SA to win the World Cup again.

  • Comment number 5.

    Make no mistake, this was a very good performance by the All Blacks. What we saw was only a small repertoire of what will be required to tear the guts out of any side, regardless of how they might approach the game. I'm not saying they will win the RWC. What I would like to know is, who is likely to stop them. Certainly no one from the NH.

  • Comment number 6.

    A very strong win for NZ, but I find the comments about 'absolute art' and 'mesmerising power' of their backs slightly puzzling. Yes it was good, but it was very simple stuff done incredibly well. I fear many international teams might be their own worst enemy nowadays, trying to over-coach the backs with all sorts of strike moves, instead of just worrying about the simple stuff. How many teams nowadays regularly pass flat into space and draw the man before passing? You'd be surprised how little that actually happens.

    This is what slightly angers me when people talk about the NH/SH divide. There is a divide there, but I believe (maybe naively) that it can be narrowed. The 'NZ Way' of playing that people talk of isn't something unique - it's IMHO the way the game should be played. All the best teams through history, even the England 2003 team that people assume was just a 10-man trench warfare machine, could score tries and make it look easy to do so at times, whilst doing the basics devastatingly well. The fad for ball carriers is one I fail to understand - carry the ball and punch a small hole as many times as you like, but unless there's quick ball or an offload out of the tackle, it rarely makes much of an impact on well-drilled defences. Dummies, passes into space, offloads in the tackle, drawing the inside men etc on the other hand, does.

    I particularly enjoyed how NZ competed (legally or otherwise) at nearly all the breakdowns. Many teams don't commit men, and allow the opposition clean ball, but NZ time after time just dove straight into the rucks, meaning it was a battle for the French to even get their own ball back, let alone quickly. A strong performance against a team liable to blow hot and cold (let's face it, the tackling in the first half was sometimes pathetic), and I'd put NZ as firm favourites, but it comes with a rider - they aren't invincible, they still go 'ow' if you tackle them hard enough, and they are still beatable.

  • Comment number 7.

    Oh yes that is all they need over confidence and the fact that the loser had a easier draw... well that says it all. France vs New Zealand in the finals with France winning as the All Blacks will think all they need to do is turn up to win after this victory. A very nice cunning defeat for France!

  • Comment number 8.

    awesome performance jusy gotta keep winning
    still way too manychip kicks easily tumbling into french hands
    J hope the ABs go back and look at these and note we were just gifting the ball back..I cant think of one that came off..come on ABs when will we learn nothing beats ball in hand..chip kicks are a lottery and its such a tiny percentage that comes off
    Still a great win

  • Comment number 9.

    South Africa will beat them...

  • Comment number 10.

    NZ are not invincible. They have some outstanding players are are good on the front foot but I would like to see them under pressure for long periods. If they are only leading by 7 points, with fifteen minutes left on the clock,in the knock out stages -then we will see their mettle. SA are growing in confidence but don't count out the French quite yet. They always produce one special game and have yet to come out of the blocks, but I suspect not all is wel in the dressing room this time around. We will see.

  • Comment number 11.

    #2 is spot on. AB's should have been down to 14 men for ten minutes, then it would have been interesting to see. How can the officials not see these things, when stood two feet away?

    This game was gifted to them by the french. 3 tries down the number 10 channel. A hooker who has hardly played. A number 8 who is their third choice, who played straight but never linked with anyone.

    I know the game was already won, but please ask some probing questions that need answering. Why were NZ pushed off their scrum the moment Servat appeared? They conceded three penalties and lost one against the head - unheard of in the modern crooked feed game. Why were NZ no longer winning everything with Harinordoquay on the pitch, and in fact turning over ball? When Estabanez arrived late on, suddenly there were tackles in the middle of the park, and line breaks were over.

    Carter and Nonu were real class, and having a scavanger 7 as good as McCaw who never gets penalised is brilliant. Yet this was a patched up french team who didn't really care. Yet they still asked serious questions of AB's.

    France will never win the World Cup because they don't have tried and tested combinations that work on instinct under pressure, just knowing what they will do from time spent playing together. Yet we knew this before this match.

    NZ turned it on in flashes of brilliance, but never really controlled the game or the tempo. They cut through easily, but didn't have to work themselves in to position to score. Other teams are not going to be so generous.

    NZ have world class 5,6 & 7, 9,10 & 12. The rest are good but not outstanding. They need these key players to be fit. If more than one get injured, they are likely to struggle against stronger tackling and defensive sides than France - with Argentina followed Australia two possible knock out matches.

    Wasn't convinced I was watching potential winners today.

  • Comment number 12.

    It wouldn't be a world cup without the hyperbolic, cliched guff after every match. I'm not talking so much about the BBC coverage, but certainly the ITV commentary.

    We had England written off after a predictably dull, rusty performance against a good Argentinian side.

    We had the nonsense of "the biggest win in Ireland's history after their unexpected but hardly unimaginable win against the Aussies.

    Today, we had "New Zealand have shown they can cope with the high pressure games that everyone said they couldn't handle"

    Beating an experimental French side, while looking flaky defensively at times even if they were very impressive with ball in hand, in a game that would see the loser going into the easier part of the draw rather than out of the World Cup is hardly pressure.

    We'll see how they cope with pressure when they play their quarter final. I wouldn't bet against AB winning the whole thing - but so far they have not played a pressure game, and this certainly wasn't one.

  • Comment number 13.

    Interesting thought. As Cory Jane was not penalised for taking out Traille, can the citing commissioner review this? If that wasn't dangerous play, don't know what is. Certainly deserves some sanction.

  • Comment number 14.

    Sounds like a good match, but as with most of this world cup it is a shame about the coverage. The link to even find this result was well hidden at the bottom of the rugby home-page (even though this is the most important match of the group stages), and then even after reading this story I'm yet to find out the actual final score. Poor reporting by the BBC.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    Fact_not_Fiction
    I agree,and the ITV commercial break drives me mad!!
    Love the RWC but the coverage from from the uk has been poor and we,the "home nations" are supposedly in with a shout!!
    Sorry I got sidetracked from original post.
    Still think NZ will be too strong,although England have this weird German tournemant mentality when it comes to a RWC and knockout rugby,no matter how indifferent they are playing.

  • Comment number 17.

    Look at the replay , Jane was going for the ball , not the man.

  • Comment number 18.

    Interesting that you see Argentina going through to the SH side of the pool and Scotland or England in the other side. It's still way wide open.

    I do see tomorrow's Scotland vs Argentina as the KO game, but taking the record between Scotland vs Argentina or England over the last 4 years, any permutation of results is possible.

    Argentina could lose to Scotland AND England and still go through.

  • Comment number 19.

    Great game by NZ. don't see any serious challenge to them from the NH. An interception led to the first try against the run of play and second French try remains a mystery. In QF's I suspect Aus to beat Wales, France to beat England, SA to beat Ireland and NZ to beat Argentina, then SF Aus to beat France and NZ to beat SA. That is probably what the punters say, the upsets could be England upset France, Scotland beats Argentina, and Ireland upsets SA!! Great stuff to watch in any event.

  • Comment number 20.

    One other thing, in the US we have NZ commentators who are simply excellent, knowledgeable, observant, funny and sporting.

  • Comment number 21.

    Well most of you lot are are wearing rose tinted glasses!The defeated French team started this match with 634 odd caps!(inexperienced myth proven wrong).True,this was not a knockout game but to imply that this was not a pressure test for the men in Black is pure rubbish.We can only beat what is in front of us and given the WC history between these two great sides, a few demons were defineately expelled today by the NZers for sure.Still some areas that need attention,but this team will sort them out.
    Bathe in your "glorious"defeat of Romania this morning,but the ABs would have put a hundred + on those guys!
    It is worth remembering that you Northern Hemispherians(and Bokke/Aussies) are in our back yard now and theres no way any of you are going to spoil our party.Of our two closest rivals-one was real lucky to get past an average Wales and the other lost to Ireland.That only really left France(dispatched) and England,who have never defeated the mighty All Blacks in a WC game of rugby!Do the maths! This All Black team is only going to get more clinical as the tournament progresses;Dis-believe that at your peril.The real pressure is on the teams vying to win "Bill" in our back yard,a pertinent point a lot of you on here fail to realise.
    The future of world rugby is All Black!

  • Comment number 22.

    #19 - cdmlad - Before making your predictions it might be worth looking at the actual draws for the quarterfinals. For example, it is generally accepted that SA will be playing Aus in a QF, unless something really strange transpires in the last round! Not sure how you've ended up with Aus in a semi vs France.

  • Comment number 23.

    @kiffbro

    Sit down please, you're embarrassing your fellow AB fans and only adding weight to the argument that most Kiwi fans are arrogant.

  • Comment number 24.

    It was not a perfect All Black performance - Henry gave them 8 out of 10 - but given the history it was a convincing one. Yes there are things to work on but that is good.

    After a tough year beginning with the Christchurch earthquake, which the Crusaders team endured like all other residents, McCaw almost led his provincial team to victory in the Super Fifteen final, until glory was snatched by some Genia genius. Glory in Queensland was not to be.

    We Kiwis all want to see Richie raise the Webb-Ellis cup on 24 October, but regardless of whether he does or not today was his day - and it was extra special that he played this game against France in a world cup match at Eden Park.

    Arise Sir Richie! We salute you. 100 tests down and still going - http://bit.ly/pfKPhd

  • Comment number 25.

    "If Jane was playing for any team bar the All Blacks that was a yellow card for tackling a guy mid air"...

    What tosh. It was two players competing for the ball & at a very unlikely stretch it could have been ruled a french penalty given Jane didn't gather the ball & knocked over Traille in the air but a yellow card (not awarded because it was the All Blacks) give me a break.

    If you need to label New Zealand as arrogant cheats with every referee in their pocket to feel better about your own teams failings then be my guest but expect to get called out on it.

  • Comment number 26.

    New Zealand are looking good but England's performance was definitely encouraging. Brief review and comparison of a couple of English sporting stars...

    http://samhopwood.blogspot.com/2011/09/so-we-are-at-world-cup-after-all.html

  • Comment number 27.

    I still think Cory Jane was contesting for the ball with Traille, being so close to their line; plus both landed on their backs with difficult falls - unlike a tackle's post momentum

  • Comment number 28.

    18.At 22:30 24th Sep 2011, ScotsSevensNutjob wrote:
    Interesting that you see Argentina going through to the SH side of the pool and Scotland or England in the other side. It's still way wide open.

    Argentina could lose to Scotland AND England and still go through.

    ------------------------------

    What?! If Argentina lose to Scotland they will have 6 points (7 if they gain a bonus) after 3 games. England has 14, Scotland will have 13 or 14.

    How, exactly, can Argentina get 6 or 7 points from their last match??!

  • Comment number 29.

    Nice to see most AB fans realising its only a pool game; UK posters picking on the Jane high take / tackle and SA fans predicting an SA win over the ABs. Nothing changes on those last two scores.

    SA still has to get past Aus and that in NZ is not a given. Then they will meet NZ, if NZ gets there.

    I would have thought the French try scored as the ref was still talking to the ABs was more controversial but I guess that didnt involve a NZ player in the "wrong". I remember the furore when a ref did the same thing in an international a few years ago.

  • Comment number 30.

    Like any Kiwi I want to see the ABs succeed. But it's best to be cautious about NZ's performance against France. No doubt there were positives- the mainline IMHO being the drift defence and the team composure. The negatives were built around falling into a lull and playing loose after being 19 points up. Great teams in any sport seek to keep their shape even when they're so dominant so early. Look at the current Barcelona football side and the 90s Chicago Bulls teams as obvious examples.

    My MVP for last night - Sam Whitelock.
    Player of the Match - Israel Dagg
    Flop of the Match - Parra
    Most overrated - Weepu

    NB: impressed with the English backs in their hit out yesterday. Good, hard straight running. Depending on how both teams go after pool play it could be a NZ - Eng Final.

  • Comment number 31.

    Ok I have only just properly watched the ABs France as I was at the England game last night.

    For what it is worth, which may not be much to some, I do not believe that the Cory Jane clash was a yellow card penalty. At most it may have been a penalty as he did appear to grasp at the body of Trelli, is that how you spell it had one or two?, on the way down. But on the TV both had their eyes on the ball.

    Having said that I did think there were a number of times when the ABs blocked off the ball and a number of off ball instances that had the ABs been playing in white or even charcoal with the numbers falling off I am sure would have been pinged.

    BTW I would like to say thanks to the Robinson's of Dunedin big big ABs fans of Scots heritage who invited us back to their house today for lunch and to watch the replay of the game. It's good to know that there are some kiwis/scots who are not weighed down by chips on both shoulders as we have all seen on these bloggs . We had a great time thanks so much .......

  • Comment number 32.

    oh I forgot to say come on Ireland

  • Comment number 33.

    no doubt new zealand are looking good, they doing the basics right and always have a support runner on either side of the ball carrier and this is what makes them look good. Who is going to stop them? All blacks is not unbeatable both japan and france showed that. South africa has the best defence at the thus far in the tournament. I ask you will the all blacks break that defence? I doubt it because the pressure will start to grow as they progress in this tournament whereas the boks are in a knockout game since their first game barring namibia. Boks to stop all blacks...

  • Comment number 34.

    New Zealand will be better for this win. They now have to play Canada who will be stubborn that's for sure.
    Can't see any of the three possible Group B runners up causing New Zealand any problems to be honest. In fact their sternest test will probably come in the shape of SA or Aus in the semi final which suppose if you want to win the tournament you have to beat what's in front of you.
    It's amazing just how much that wonderful win by the Irish has thrown the tournament in a completely different direction than expect... have to say excellent tournament so far.

  • Comment number 35.

    Wuming (porridge)

    Oh changed you mind now then from your predictions a couple of weeks ago the tournament would never have got to where we are now...Gee wait a moment you got all those predictions wrong. Sorry I forgot for a moment what you know about rugby could fit on the back of a penny black.

    Good win for Ireland took their foot off the neck for a bit but in the end come home winners and I think that the home country teams going through will be England Wales and Ireland...sorry scots (i mean real scots rugby fans here not those who will switch to the ABs as soon as Scotland get beat )

  • Comment number 36.

    as I have just been reminded by the Scots on tour with us...we want Scotland to win:)

  • Comment number 37.

    Adam WBF,don't confuse confidence with arrogance like you just have.To tell someone they are a certain way without actually meeting them is just ignorant.We are all entitled to our opinions even if they conflict with yours.
    Go Scotland the Brave!

  • Comment number 38.

    I like the use of choral groups /choirs for the anthems - also thought that the Maori conch announcing the players onto the field was a novel touch. The tournament seems to be going smoothly and its great to see Kiwi crowds animated for a change - instead of analysing every move and decision.

  • Comment number 39.

    The big fear for NZ is they go into the QFs undedone, ala 2007. SA have had 2 torrid games against Wales and Manu Samoa. Eng have had to tough it out in their pool too. And Aust are playing second fiddle to Ireland. NZ by comparison are having an easy run.

    I agree with other people here that SA will be tough. They have experience and a forward pack that can grind opposing packs down. As always, the AB strategy will be to run them into the ground. That will be a major challenge.

    But let's not think too far ahead. Canada are next. No doubt Dagg and Kahui will be rested. Muliana will come in for cap 99, Toeava on one wing, possibly Guildford will get a run. This game has to be the one to test Kieran Read's leg and see if he can last the distance.

    I know i'm risking the wrath of fellow kiwis, but how I wish NZ could produce world class halfbacks. IMHO, not since Dave Loveridge have we had one of true world class.

  • Comment number 40.

    Churguys...
    How was church today?

  • Comment number 41.

    "Dan Carter had popped over only the fourth drop-goal of his international career."

    It is interesting and to be applauded that the the best player in the best team in the world doesn't have to revert to the sneaky, short cut way to make points. The sooner the drop-kick is banned, the better in my opinion. I hate it with a passion.

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    Hard luck Scotland if Paterson had not dropped that catch.......

  • Comment number 44.

    Cheers Churguys... see the things we Scots do for our English friends... now you will not have to face the AB's until the final.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    you may all be correct in saying the AB won,t win the world cup afterlast nights game against france..france were only playing a practice game..all blacks won't win playing like that against a side who didn't even get out of first gear..all blacks should be ashamed of themselves for playing such a poor game against a very poor second string side like france..anyother IRB ranked side would have doubled that score..yes..you all could be right..good intelligent run down on a very poor display..oooohhh deeeearrrr.....

  • Comment number 47.

    I have not read all the comments, but I watched the game and yes the ABs were clinical; however until the refs start to penalise them for taking men out off the ball, pulling players back by their shirts, sealing off the ball and coming in from the side, they will defo win the world cup. It will take a very strong ref to do that in their own back yard, and I do not see that happening. The ABs play well legally and illegally

  • Comment number 48.

    "We had the nonsense of "the biggest win in Ireland's history after their unexpected but hardly unimaginable win against the Aussies."

    It was an upset! People talk as if Ireland are at the top of the table in rugby and have history behind them.. they aren't and don't. Ireland deserved their win but the Wallabies played a bad game. Period. They will be in the QF for a win over SA (who they have now beaten 5 of the last 6 and 2 in a row home and away) as for the AB's, well, they talk like god is shining on them.. defeat for them will taste all the more sour when it happens.. not if.
    Happy to see the NH teams on one side now as it makes for an interesting final. England are picking up the pace now which is good to see after a slow start.
    If SA or AUS end up in the final (too soon to call) they will take No.1 spot in the IRB.

  • Comment number 49.

    The game was a meaningless dead rubber. NZ looked ok in patches against flakey French team and with the help of a ref who bottled it.
    Decent ref + a bit of pressure in the knockout stages, and it will be the All Blacks who will bottle it as usual.

  • Comment number 50.

    All this talk about the ABs playing illegally at the breakdowns is more a reflection of the interpretation of the rules. NH referees are more likely to penalize teams on attack while SH refs will more likely penalize teams on defence.

    It's a reflection on the differing approaches. SH teams, esp the Tri-N countries are coached with an emphasis on ball retention, keeping it alive and seeking space. Refs interpret the rules to encourage that style of play.

    All any of the teams can hope for is consistency across the board from all the refs. The ability to adapt to whoever's blowing the whistle will have the advantage going into the QFs.

  • Comment number 51.

    PS anyone seen Papa recently??

  • Comment number 52.

    Why do people keep going on about referees. Players should learn to play what is in front of them.

  • Comment number 53.

    All the moaning about refereeing decisions is baloney. Rolland is imho currently the best ref in the world, and I thought he ref'd a fair, even, unbiased contest in a way that kept it flowing yet controlled. Yes, Corey Jane's challenge was marginally illegal, but only that: he was genuinely going for the ball, and, sure, the fact his arm happened to flop round his opponent on the way down could have been penalised ... but equally, could be taken as accidental, which is clearly how the officials saw it. That apart, imho there was not a single contestable whistle in the match.

    But controlled was also the word for the ABs performance. It wasn't "clinical" - it was more exciting than that - but it certainly was controlled. They put the pressure on, made it count, and kept their feet on the tender French parts just sufficient to make sure there would be no escape. Undoubtedly France have more to offer later on, and as others have suggested, will hope to have some surprises should they reach the final... but so will the All Blacks. Sure, no team is invincible - but these ABs are certainly front-runners to lift the Cup. And, unlike in the past, I don't believe THIS team will choke.

    As for Dagg at fullback ... what did he do wrong? Nothing. What did he do right? Two superb takes under immense pressure; two great tries. Plus excellent tactical kicking and incisive running. The guy I feel sorry for is Mils, who may play vs Canada but will then be stuck on 99 tests ... because Dagg clearly now has the edge, and as great a player as he has been, Mils has lost his.

  • Comment number 54.

    BrucieB.

    Totally agree with you there. Too much negative comment from posters about the officials, which is clearly dictated by which team they had wanted to win.
    Looks like France will be facing England... if there is one team that can get in under the French it's the English.

  • Comment number 55.

    I agree with Footiefan. The more I see the AB's the more I get the impression that they're a horribly cynical team. Don't get me wrong, there's much to admire about them. I respect the way that they do the basics so brilliantly well and at their best they are extremely clinical and brutally effective. They do break as many rules as they are allowed to though, especially at the ruck and off-the-ball interference in open play. They don't exactly play with any corinthian spirit and it goes back decades. Back in the amateur days they were very "professional - win at all costs" in their approach to the game.

  • Comment number 56.

    There's a few great things this AB side are doing well:

    1. The drift defence is complementing and balancing the attack. It's creating the control needed to keep pressure on their opponents. France couldn't break the defensive pattern. Their tries were both flukes.

    2. The way the ABs are presenting the ball for recycling is virtually 'on a plate'. It's clean and fast. A shame the halfbacks don't have better long passes otherwise Carter and co would have even more attacking options.

    No doubt future opponents will attempt to disrupt the AB rhythm. Good on them. You do what you have to, to win. Argentina proved last night, you have to play the entire 80 mins to win. The ABs showed the way to demoralize an opponent is to absorb everything thrown at them then kill them off with three tries in 11 mins. Australia, SA and probably Eng are capable of doing that too.

  • Comment number 57.

    As good as the AB's were, France seemed to wilt when they didn't score in the first 10mins and it took them a long time before they eventually recovered. By that time it was too late and the AB's had it all wrapped up.

    It only takes a good 80 mins from Australia or South Africa to disrupt the AB's planned celebrations. Personally, I can't see them beating one of them and then beating another team in the final a week later, as I think it would take too much out of them.

    It would of been interesting to see what would of happened had Cory Jane been sent off for taking the man in the air. And I am still waiting for a ref to really penalise the AB's for their constant infringements at the ruck.

  • Comment number 58.

    look, the All Blacks were pretty good but after the first 10 minutes the french didn't want to know. This way they get in the half of the draw which they will feel more comfortable in and if (big IF) they manage to get through to the final and if they happen to be up against the All Blacks again I fully expect a much more competitive game. For me I won't be remembering this game for a great performance from New Zealand but rather an embarrassing one from the French.

  • Comment number 59.

    To illustrate between NH and SH rule interpretations. 6-N teams are using a tactic where instead of ripping the ball off an opponent in the tackle - they're holding them up to create a maul. If the maul collapses it's likely they'll win possession.

    Very effective for killing opponents momentum and slowing the game tempo. Mobile teams like NZ, Aust and Manu Samoa will find that tactic difficult. SH refs more likely to interpret that as preventing the ball from being recycled.

  • Comment number 60.

    Sadly didnt get to see the game. Was really looking forward to it. Thought France would be magic or they would flop. Sadly they seemed to have done the latter. It is hard to tell quite where NZ are.....but they have scored the most points.....but have also leaked more tries than Eng, SA and AUS......

    @59 - If you watch England they do try and do this. Croft especially this WC has constantly been going after the ball. Just isnt having asmuch effect.

    As a coach though I would get my team doing what makes the opposition uncomfortable and what they are not used to. Best way to disrupt their rhythm, get them annoyed, and then come the unforced errors. Against teams like NZ, SA, and AUS you just have to take those chances because you won't get many.
    One of the AUS squad said they struggled with the "positional" style of rugby Ireland played, that they just could adjust. Think they have just told teams how to beat them then!

    @41 lorus59 - The drop goal is part of rugby, learn to love it or go watch another sport. Rugby is a territorial game. You should have the chance to be rewarded for gaining field position, and it is still a skill to knock them over. Sure they might be easier than tries in some senses, but thats why they arent worth as much! Soon people will be calling of penalty kicking to be scraped..........

  • Comment number 61.

    Anyone else think Manu should watch vids of Ma'a Nonu that guy has been amazing recently breaking the line running STRAIGHT and he can also pass.

  • Comment number 62.

    Rather than being a marvelous spectacle, the Haka has always bored me a bit as I want to get on with the game. So I don't normally bother to watch...until this weekend.

    When did all the camp Hollywood choreography come in? Players used to just line up and do the wobbly hand and knees thing before jumping in the air. Now, the "chief Haka rapper" strides through the ranks of his "warriors", his words now amplified, while his "crew" crouch on the floor, doing hamstring stretches, occasionally hitting their chests while sticking their tongues out comically. Where did all the throat-slashing, implied GBH come from? Very unseemly!

    I think the biggest challenge being laid down is to not p**s yourself laughing!

    Getting the cabaret out of the way though I thought that New Zealand looked about as good a rugby team as anyone has seen.

  • Comment number 63.

    watching dan carter play is a pleasure, probably the best 10 I've ever seen. watching the replays, his awareness and matchplay is simply sublime. offloads before or in tackle, sets himself up behind runners after off loads. they are in a different league to everyone else at the moment and IMO the RWC is theirs to lose

  • Comment number 64.

    I suppose that if New Zealand do win the World Cup this time, the upside is that the Laws will be finally declared perfect by the IRB and we won't have to endure yet more years of baffling tinkering ;-)

  • Comment number 65.

    "I still think Cory Jane was contesting for the ball with Traille, being so close to their line; plus both landed on their backs with difficult falls - unlike a tackle's post momentum"

    Explains why he went off with head injury after landing badly. Suggestion that this was a yellow card (and as some have absurdly suggested a red card) is simply laughable.

  • Comment number 66.

    This was a great performance by the All Blacks, I think they could have put 50+ on the board and probably have seen a signifigant reduction in the French score had they not taken their collective feet of the pedal. They seem to have got a grip of the fact that you don't need to win by huge scores and expend unnecesary energy, this is not good news for the other sides they will now meet. This side looks like the one that will shed themselves of the mantle of Chokers.

    Complain about referees decisions all you like, they play the game at such pace that two refs are needed on the field! I am a Bok supporter and hoped to rely on them choking if we meet them but on this display it is difficult to see the All Blacks slipping up.

  • Comment number 67.

    Al

    The "stinging criticism" in the local media to which you refer; is this the stinging criticism that came from Peter Bills, the Englishman who lives in London and writes for the Independent?

  • Comment number 68.

    "They at least made the scoreline respectable with an intercept try...."

    It may sound petty, but what was the score? Not all of us are up to speed with all of the news, all of the time. Ahh... I've found it, after pressing page-down, twice, on the (previous) Rugby page. 37-17. Thanks.

 

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