New Zealand (18) 48
- Tries: Inu, Goodwin, Nu'uausala 2, Johnson 2, Eastwood, Tuivasa-Sheck
- Goals: Johnson 8
France (0) 0
World Cup holders New Zealand made it two wins out of two in Group B with a comfortable victory over France in Avignon.
Half-back Shaun Johnson proved a key figure for the Kiwis, scoring two second-half tries and kicking 16 points.
Sydney Roosters forward Frank-Paul Nu'uausala touched down twice.
Krisnan Inu, Bryson Goodwin, Greg Eastwood and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck also crossed for the New Zealand side.
Even without dual-code star Sonny Bill Williams and not always playing the most fluent rugby, the Kiwis were too good against a determined France outfit who
beat Papua New Guinea
in their opening game.
Victory, which came five days after their
42-24 win over Samoa,
gave New Zealand a two-point lead at the
top of the group.
After four minutes they took the lead through Inu, who rose uncontested to claim Kieran Foran's crossfield kick and touch down, with Johnson adding the extras.
Remaining Group B fixtures
Papua New Guinea v Samoa
New Zealand v Papua New Guinea
France v Samoa
The Kiwis looked to have extended their lead four minutes later but Frank Pritchard's try was disallowed by video referee Shayne Hayne, before Jason Nightingale was denied by some tough defence from Cyril Stacul and Jean-Philippe Baile.
However, after 25 minutes the Kiwis' kicking game undid the French when Johnson's punt was grabbed by Goodwin.
New Zealand extended their advantage just before the break as Issac Luke's flat pass found Nu'uausala, who twisted and turned over the line to put them 18-0 up.
Luke took advantage of France's fatigue after the interval with some smart skill to get the ball out to Johnson, who scored and kicked the extras to put the Kiwis further ahead on 51 minutes.
Luke proved a constant thorn in the France side and five minutes later found the space to escape from a couple of tacklers and set up Johnson for his second try. The half-back continued his perfect kicking record, making no mistake with the conversion from in front of the posts.
Former Leeds forward Greg Eastwood then went over for a converted try on 66 minutes.
But the biggest cheer of the night from the 17,000-strong crowd came eight minutes from time when France full-back Morgan Escare raced down the wing only for opposite number Kevin Locke to pull off a try-saving tackle.
Nu'uausala competed his double in the closing minutes before Tuivasa-Sheck had the final say, scoring in the corner with the final play of the game.
New Zealand's next match is against Papua New Guinea next Friday, while France will take on Samoa in a key game on Monday 11 November.
The top three teams in Group B go through to the quarter-finals.
New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney:
"I thought it was a pretty sound performance in the areas I wanted us to improve on.
"We had a real focus on defence and I thought that was pretty good. But I take my hat off to the French, who threw everything at us. We were very determined in defence and it took a good performance to get us a result.
"We still have things to work on; there were a couple of areas in attack I could recognise. We scored some good tries, have still got improvements in us and some guys really put their hands up."
France coach Richard Agar:
"I thought the first half came back to haunt us. There were some errors and indiscipline too and we were not finishing kicks off. Then we gave away penalties. The energy was a massive issue in the second half and they were rolling 70 to 80 metres against us."
"I don't think pride and commitment have been an issue for our guys.
"I'd love to see us with some energy in our legs. Winning was probably beyond us tonight but we could have been a bit more competitive."
Locke, Nightingale, Goodwin, Inu, Tuivasa-Sheck, Foran, Johnson, Matulino, Luke, Waerea-Hargreaves, Pritchard, Glenn, Mannering.
Taylor, Kasiano, Nu'uausala, Eastwood.
Escare, Vaccari, Baile, Duport, Stacul, Bosc, Fages, Elima, K Bentley, Casty, Larroyer, Raguin, A Bentley.
Mounis, Fakir, Garcia, Simon.
Phil Bentham (England)
Rugby League World Cup
- Dates: 26 October to 30 November
Coverage: Watch England's group matches, plus one quarter-final, one semi-final and the final live on BBC TV, online, mobiles and Connected TVs. Listen to every match live on BBC Radio 5 or 5 live sports extra