The All Blacks surged to a 31-5 half time lead but then lost momentum as young scrum-half Antoine Du Pont led the Les Bleus resistance in Paris. Kaal Kaczmarek gives his verdict on the proverbial game of two halves.
15. Damian McKenzie 6
McKenzie looked dangerous every time he touched the ball in the first half and excellent link play for Sam Cane’s try. Seemed to lose confidence alongside his younger teammates in the second half.
14. Waisake Naholo 7
Ran a total of seven metres in the game but scored two tries, made seven tackles and also did some useful work at the breakdown, winning two turnovers.
Building some impressive consistency.
13. Ryan Crotty 6
Solid link play in the first half capped off with an excellent try. A largely anonymous second half, however.
12. Sonny Bill Williams 6.5
Probably the All Blacks’ best player in the first half running excellent angles and setting up Crotty’s try with a delicate grubber. However, in the second half, he received a yellow card and conceded a penalty try for batting ball out of play league-style.
The fact that the period when he was sin-binned coincided with the French renaissance means that the local media has yet another bone to pick with SBW.
11. Rieko Ioane 7
Showed his top drawer speed in impressive first half and a big part of the move that led to Cane’s try. Quieter in the second half but he wasn’t alone. Top All Black metre-eater with 54.
10. Beauden Barrett 7
Seemed to be humming along perfectly in the first half, hitting the line flat, setting up two tries with deft passes and kicking conversions and penalties from all over the park.
However, in the second half, he wasn’t able to right the rocking All Black ship which is a part of his game in which he still has some way to go to match the clear-eyed steel and strategy of Dan Carter.
9. Aaron Smith 6
Nippy and fast delivery at the breakdowns as usual but overplayed his hand with his box kicks at times. His running game didn’t catch fire in the same way as his opposite, Du Pont.
8. Kieran Read 6.5
Solid enough in line-outs and drives until replaced by Matt Todd in the 48th minute.
7. Sam Cane 7
Hardworking and hard in his twelve tackles and good support play for the try.
6. Vaea Fifita 6
Some good grafting but no sign of his explosive wider channel runs.
5. Sam Whitelock 7
A tackling powerhouse leading the All Blacks with 17. He was one of the old heads who lost their discipline a little in the second half though.
4. Luke Romano 6
Intermittently on due to a head cut but solid without standing out.
3. Nepo Laulala 6
Penalised in an early scrum and seemed confused by French tactics and refereeing in following scrums.
2. Dane Coles 7
Seemed set for a humdinger of a Test when running a delicious line off Barrett to score the first try.
However, he was subbed soon after with a worrying knee injury.
1. Kane Hames 7 Impressive first half with a subtle offload and won a couple of penalties leading to the yellow card for his opposing prop. Not as prominent in the second half.
15. Nans Ducuing 7
Good insertions into the backline and runs back from kicks and solid under high ball except for bad drop which led to Cane’s try. High involvement with 12 runs and 62 metres. Connected well with Du Pont and played his part in Thomas’ try.
14. Yoann Huget 5
A very anonymous outing for a player who usually hogs the spotlight.
13. Geoffrey Doumayrou 5
Tackled strongly but overshadowed by his big midfield partner.
12. Mathieu Bastareaud 6.5
Some classy touches highlighted by an excellent offload which created the space for Thomas’ try.
Made metres going forward but more like a number 8 than a midfielder.
11. Teddy Thomas 7
Looked threatening on every touch and impressive swan dive to score France’s first try. Close to a second score in the second half but touched the sideline just before the try-line.
10. Anthony Belleau 7
A promising performance by the 21-year-old flyhalf. Seems to have more to show in his running game, useful general kicking and worked well with his scrumhalf.
9. Antoine Dupont 9
Any player who can keep Baptiste Serin on the bench must be talented and the 20-year-old dominated the game in the second half.
His jinking, low centre of gravity running game is very, very dangerous. Game-high 91 metres run, making four clean breaks and beating seven defenders. Hugely promising and Player of the Match.
8. Louis Picamoles 5.5
Surprisingly little impact on his drives from a player who usually bosses his opposition. Highest tackle count among French with eight.
7. Kevin Gourdon 6
Strong and scrappy in tackles and at the breakdown.
6. Judicael Cancoriet 6.5
Competed well in the line out.
5. Paul Gabrillagues 5.5
Solid but not eye-catching.
Six runs for zero metres do not indicate too much impact.
4. Sebastien Vahaamahina 6
Very involved competing in the tight stuff at the breakdown.
3. Rabah Slimani 4
Given a torrid time by Kane Hames and yellow-carded for buckling once too often.
2. Guilhem Guirado 7.5
Lots of involvement and impact from the skipper. Rallied his troops very well after the break.
1. Jefferson Poirot 7
The scrums were a bit of a mystery all night, but no evidence pointed in Poirot’s direction.
Kaal Kaczmarek, Pundit Arena
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