All Blacks get landmark 2,000th try during France romp

New Zealand flanker Sam Cane surging past France's Yoann Huget (right) and Antoine Dupont to score a try, their fourth against France in the first half and 2,001st overall. The All Blacks had a much quieter second period.
New Zealand flanker Sam Cane surging past France's Yoann Huget (right) and Antoine Dupont to score a try, their fourth against France in the first half and 2,001st overall. The All Blacks had a much quieter second period.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • New Zealand coach Steve Hansen admitted to feeling frustrated despite the All Blacks romping to a 38-18 victory in France on Saturday and scoring their 2,000th try while at it.

The visitors were at their rampant best in the first 40 minutes, running in four tries and threatening a record victory over the French when they led 31-5 at the break.

But they were kept quiet until the final move of the match in the second period, leaving them unable to get close to the record 61-10 victory in Wellington 10 years ago.

"We lost our discipline a little (in the second half), and as a result of that we allowed the momentum to shift and the French were good enough to take that opportunity and put us under pressure," said Hansen.

"Having said that, I'm happy with the way we fought our way through it and we scored a good try at the end. We scored enough points in the first half to get the job done."

But with what on paper looked like their hardest Test this month negotiated with a convincing victory ahead of trips to Scotland and Italy, Hansen was not going to be too tough on his players.

"It's very difficult in sporting occasions for any team or person to hold the momentum for the whole duration of the contest," he added.

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"Once we lost momentum the French team got confidence and put us under pressure, so it's all part of that process of trying to get better."

He also lamented the fact that cross-code star Sonny Bill Williams seemingly did not know the rules when conceding a penalty try. He also got sin-binned for batting the ball intentionally out of play from inside the All Blacks' try area.

"He doesn't know the rules because he was playing Rugby League," said Hansen.

"In League rules you're allowed to smash the ball over the line."

His Rugby League skills, however, created a try in the first half when Ryan Crotty pounced on Williams' grubber kick to notch the All Blacks' 2,000th try in international rugby.

"I had no idea, that's pretty cool," admitted Crotty of his landmark.

"It was a pretty nice kick he put through for me. I didn't really have to do too much so I give him a pat on the back for that."

France coach Guy Noves said his team's second-half showing had merely prevented a disaster at the Stade de France.

"The first half was very feeble," admitted the veteran coach.

"It would have been a disaster if there hadn't been this awakening at half-time.

"We'll work on this in the week to try to find the reason we started this match with so little aggression."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2017, with the headline 'All Blacks get landmark 2,000th try during France romp'. Print Edition | Subscribe