All Blacks annihilate France in Christchurch
New Zealand 30 France 0
Published 15/06/2013 | 11:25
New Zealand wrapped up the series and retained the Dave Gallaher Trophy by thrashing France in Christchurch.
The All Blacks scored three tries through Julian Savea, Ben Smith and Beauden Barrett against a French side lacking the tactical cohesion and intensity they displayed in the first Test effort a week earlier.
Aaron Cruden led the hosts' victory charge from fly-half, scoring half his side's points with the boot to move out of the shadow of Dan Carter and ensure the series was won with one match still to play.
His kicking performance in particular was top drawer, while he supplemented that with some outstanding tackling, especially close to rucks and mauls, and controlled the play around the field.
New Zealand scored the opening try after only three minutes.
Lock Sam Whitelock, who was superb in the tight quarter, disrupted a French line-out sufficiently for prop Wyatt Crockett to secure the ball behind him.
The forwards moved the ball right, and then Aaron Smith switched the play left and Ma'a Nonu slipped a left-footed kick through to the corner where Savea was untroubled to touch down.
When they did get an opportunity to test New Zealand, Frederic Michalak attempted a drop-goal which missed.
In the 19th minute, Michalak had his first attempt at a penalty from 42 metres after New Zealand infringed in a line-out, but the kick hit the post and was run back at the French by centre Conrad Smith.
He found captain and number eight Kieran Read who ran 40m downfield and never looked like kicking ahead when in space. Aaron Smith was taken out at a ruck, but Whitelock was into a half-back like a flash and fed prop Crockett who got over the advantage line.
Aaron Smith kicked into the corner and full-back Maxime Medard was caught ball and all and the penalty was conceded for Cruden to land the goal.
More kicks deep into French territory provided a chance for Nonu and he made the most of a gap in the 27th minute to break through. Ben Smith was across from the right in support but was held back by Wesley Fofana.
However, Nonu found Dagg who was dragged down just short of the line. France were penalised at the five-metre scrum but Cruden's kick was just wide.
Les Bleus mounted wave after wave of drives at the All Blacks line within five metres of the line early in the second period, but there was no way through. Then, almost predictably, the frustration resulted in a drop-goal attempt being charged down.
New Zealand surged upfield, with centre Nonu leading the way before Savea charged onto the ball at full speed to break the defence and feed Ben Smith for the try.
The dose was repeated four minutes from the end of the game when another sustained period of pressure from France saw turnover ball moved from their own goal-line by the All Blacks.
A long pass from Cruden, almost impossibly, found replacement wing Rene Ranger. He bumped off a defender then linked with Conrad Smith, who kicked ahead and the ball bounced for Cruden, who flicked a delicious backhand pass to replacement Barrett to race over.
It spoke volumes of the difference in class between the sides on the night. France could do nothing right.