Rugby-NZ blank France 30-0 in second tes

June 17 [Mon], 2013, 21:29
* All Blacks seal series with game to spare

* Picamoles, Michalak appear to suffer serious injuries (Adds quotes)

By Greg Stutchbury

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, June 15 (Reuters) - Tries to wingers Julian Savea and Ben Smith and replacement Beauden Barrett helped New Zealand to a comprehensive 30-0 victory over France in the second test on Saturday and sealed the three-match series with a game to spare.

Flyhalf Aaron Cruden slotted 15 points with the boot as the All Blacks took nearly every scoring opportunity they had and played an intelligent game built around kicking behind the French line and keeping them pinned in their territory.

They were also brutally efficient in defence, repelling wave after wave of French attacks for 19 phases early in the second half before charging down an attempted drop kick by Frederic Michalak then sweeping downfield for Smith's try.

"The game was in the balance before that period when we defended and then we got the opportunity to strike and we took it," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen told reporters of Smith's 48th-minute converted try that extended their lead to 17-0.

"Defence wins games because it shows the attitude of the team. We have made a couple of little changes that I think have helped get our defence in the right places and they worked really hard for it."

New Zealand won the first match 23-13 at Eden Park in Auckland last week and with the victory in Christchurch they retained the Dave Gallaher Cup, which is contested between the two nations.

The final test is in New Plymouth next week, though Michalak will miss it with a shoulder injury, France coach Philippe Saint-Andre said, while number eight Louis Picamoles was still having scans on a knee injury.


The All Blacks got on the board early when Ma'a Nonu produced a deft kick behind France's flat defence and Savea scooped up the ball to record his 13th test try, which Cruden converted.

Flyhalf Michalak had two opportunities to get the visitors on the board but failed with a drop goal in the 18th minute and missed a penalty in the 20th.

Cruden extended the lead two minutes later when the French were penalised on their line after the All Blacks had swept down field following two surging runs by Read, playing his 50th test, and prop Wyatt Crockett.

The All Blacks went into the break at 10-0 but found themselves desperately defending for the first eight minutes of the second half.

After 19 phases, the French gave up on hammering at the line and swung the ball back to Michalak for a drop goal, only for Sam Cane to charge the ball down.

The All Blacks quickly moved onto attack with Savea coming from the left wing across to the right, where he drew the last defender and put Smith away to the roars of the crowd.

Cruden's conversion knocked much of the spirit out of the French and the flyhalf added two further penalties before Barrett finished a length of the field try after some outstanding work by Israel Dagg, Rene Ranger and Conrad Smith.

"We had the opportunities to come back when it was 10-0 and we spent five minutes in the New Zealand 22," Saint-Andre said.

"They defended really well. We tried a drop goal and 80 metres (later) it's 17-0 to New Zealand. Game over." (Editing by Peter Rutherford)