The All Blacks Victory Over France.

Keven Mealamu

The All Blacks have sent a clear message that they are the team to beat at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, thumping France 37-17 in what was to be their toughest pool game.

They scored five tries to France’s two, in what was a dominant display of every facet of the game. France simply had no answer.

Despite this, it was the French who exerted all the early pressure, spending nearly the entire first ten minutes inside the All Blacks half.

But they couldn’t get through the rock solid defence of the All Blacks, resorting to taking a drop kick, which missed.

The next ten minutes determined the outcome, as the All Blacks ran in three very classy tries.

The first came after a midfield break from Ma’a Nonu had the French defence on the ropes, allowing Adam Thomson to cross in the corner.

The second saw Piri Weepu throw a perfectly timed pass to Cory Jane, who wrapped around the outside of a lineout and ran into to cross, catching the French defence drifting.

The third came from an outstanding piece of individual work from Daniel Carter, who stepped through the French defence before passing inside to Israel Dagg.

19-0 after 20 minutes, and that was more or less the game.

The All Blacks continued to look dangerous for the remainder of the game, crossing for two more tries, while France were able to snaffle a couple of their own.

One of these was from an intercept and the other from a tap which would prove to be very dubious, as it didn’t seem time had been signalled back on after a break.

It was purely academic by that stage though, as the All Blacks ran out comfortable winners.

The key to the win came in gaining dominance at the breakdown. The All Blacks’ loose forwards were outstanding here, effecting countless turnovers and tackles between them.

The tight forwards were also very good, particularly in the first 60 minutes, where they dominated the French at set-piece time, allowing for a good platform for the backs to work with.

The backline looked slick, with Daniel Carter delivering yet another stellar performance, running the show well and making the jobs of the men outside him that much easier.

In the midfield they constantly looked threatening, with Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith running dangerously while being generally solid in defence.

The back three were good, with Israel Dagg in particular playing outstandingly well. He showed great skills under the high ball and gave the French defence all sorts of problems.

The controversial Sonny Bill Williams got his chance to impress, replacing Cory Jane on the wing late in the first half after Jane appeared to suffer an injury.

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