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France 40-25 New Zealand: The hosts beat the All Blacks for the first time since 2009

France 40-25 New Zealand: Peato Mauvaka scores two tries and the hosts set the World Cup scoreline by beating the All Blacks for the first time since 2009

  • France led 24-6 at halftime after attempts by Peato Mauvaka and Romain Ntamack
  • The All Blacks rallied to two points with 20 minutes remaining.
  • But Ntamack and Damian Penaud went over to secure a historic win on Saturday.


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Paris had crackled and burned all day, the air was thick with smoke and unrest as a fire raged in the French capital and protest engulfed the Place de la Republique.

At the end of it all, an impressive battle and the greatest victory of Fabien Galthie’s revolution: the old order overthrown, the rugby royalty humiliated. For now, anyway.

France had not beaten the All Blacks in 14 games and 12 years. What a time to break that duck. What marker to place.

Attempts by Peato Mauvaka and Romain Ntamack put France ahead 24-6 at halftime

Attempts by Peato Mauvaka and Romain Ntamack put France ahead 24-6 at halftime

The Webb Ellis Cup was unveiled at the Stade de France and if this serves as a dress rehearsal for the opening night of the 2023 World Cup, the curtain will give way to one of the clashes of our time. Make no mistake: this team from France is the real deal.

For a period in the second half they faltered as New Zealand threatened a notable comeback. But the likes of Romain Ntamack are not burdened by the scars of the French teams of the past. How else can you explain the youthful madness that convinced the fly half to start a counterattack from behind their own line? With the All Blacks swarming, 80,000 took a breath as Ntamack evaded three tackles and within seconds France were on the other end, stretching their lead, back in command, which could not be denied.

Even the All Black dressed in white couldn’t make a dent in the symbolism of this gathering, 658 days before the next one.

This place could blow up if France sizzles like it did last night. If Antoine Dupont and Ntamack pull the strings as they did here.

Damian Penaud's interception attempt sealed a historic victory for the hosts in Paris on Saturday

Damian Penaud's interception attempt sealed a historic victory for the hosts in Paris on Saturday

Damian Penaud’s interception attempt sealed a historic victory for the hosts in Paris on Saturday

Just two minutes later, the middle backs combined to drill the first hole and, after New Zealand sought a respite from the bunt, Peato Mauvaka was pulled from the lineout.

A pair of penalties from Jordie Barrett gave New Zealand a foothold, but before long, the visitors were backtracking again as the fierce French phases ended with Ntamack stepping in to score.

Kiwi coach Ian Foster had marked the changes after the loss to Ireland: some, like Beauden Barrett’s absence, were enforced, others came looking for fresh legs and clear minds at the end of a three-month punitive tour. Unfortunately, the visitors were affected in the first half by the intensity and speed of the French game. For once it was the All Blacks who made mistakes in abundance.

A knock-on would have cost them had it not been for a mischief from Rieko Ioane, who tapped the ball away from Damian Penaud inches from his own line.

France players celebrate beating New Zealand for the first time since 2009

France players celebrate beating New Zealand for the first time since 2009

France players celebrate beating New Zealand for the first time since 2009

There was no second pardon. Another hit gave France another chance to hit. Another lineout ended with another attempt by Mauvaka.

France led 24-6 at halftime, but if we’ve learned anything about these two teams over the past decade, it’s this: while New Zealand is never out of reach, Les Bleus can be specialists in self-sabotage. And in 11 minutes into the second half, the course of this game changed 180 degrees. First, the pressure from the All Blacks ended with Barrett crossing into the corner and then Ioane brought the visitors closer to a scoreboard with an impressive solo effort.

Melvyn Jaminet’s boot gave France a break, but New Zealand responded with a roar. Ardie Savea walked over and Barrett kicked a couple of them.

France needed to stem, or turn, the tide: step forward Ntamack. In the hour, their daring counterattack ended with Savea in the bin and an impressive victory was secured six minutes later when Penaud intercepted to score. Let’s go to 2023.

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