Sunday, 9 June 2013

New Zealand v France: 1st Test

Oh la laa... that, again, was close. What is it about those Frenchies?

Certainly that felt like a final again for all the stress it caused - but at least there was a lot less at stake.

If anyone doubts just how close that game was in terms of the numbers, take a look at the stat sheet below. It was even-stevens in practically all areas ... the difference being we converted every chance for a try. And if Cruden had got all his kicks, that winning margin would be making us all cocky.

New Zealand looked rusty - not a surprise, and we’ll undoubtedly improve. However, the handling (in what looked like great conditions) was not top class, and our ball security at rucks was ropey, though to be fair it was also prey to a very good French loose trio who once again (just like November 2011) nearly proved the difference.

How good was Louis Picamoles? It was just a crying shame that the only thing he did wrong was drop the ball with an open try line beckoning. He was immense for Les Bleus, and so was Huget, until he got Rangered.

For New Zealand, several players under form clouds or enduring selection murmurs showed up. Aaron Smith at halfback showed his class, Ma’a Nonu was a tower of strength at 12, Sam Cane carried well all night. Ben Smith was a standout as well ... I would love to see him start at fullback.

All up, it was not 10/10, but why should it be. As a base level from which to play two further Tests against France it is pretty, pretty, pretty .... pretty good. And even players like Aaron Cruden, Israel Dagg and Liam Messam can steadily find rhythm and play to their World-class abilities.

Happy. Two Tests remain against France now -and who can doubt they will be quality.

Allez les Noirs!

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