Rugby World Cup: Carter & co run riot for New Zealand as sorry France bow out
Matt Haynes | October 17, 2015
New Zealand 62-13 France
Rugby World Cup 2015 quarter-final
Saturday, October 17th
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
New Zealand to play South Africa in the semi-finals
All Blacks ruthless in victory
New Zealand were at their very best as they recorded a superb victory over France at the Millennium Stadium to progress through to the Rugby World Cup semi-finals.
Following a penalty apiece in the opening five minutes of the game, this quarter-final didn’t take much longer to burst into life.
When New Zealand’s Brodie Retallick charged down Fredie Michalak’s kick 10 metres from the line, he crossed for the first try of the match for Dan Carter to add the extras. Unfortunately for the French, it was to be Michalak’s last action; his attempted kick, making an injury worse that he had picked up in a ruck a few minutes earlier.
It was what the All Blacks needed. Building on confidence, they began to dominate, playing free-flowing rugby, moving the French all over the field.
All Blacks move through gears
Not long after, as they shipped the ball out to the right, Nehe Milner-Scudder received from Ma’a Nonu and danced inside with explosive speed, scampering away from French chasers to cross for the All Blacks’ second of the evening.
France were clearly stunned and had no response. The men in black moved through the gears and the irrepressible Carter drew his man, before releasing a magical one-handed pass back to Julian Savea who capitalised on the open space to cross for five.
The French then issued a response. Taking advantage of having their opponents on the back foot for the first time, they made it count, suddenly finding their feet. Louis Picamoles’ resolute drive under the posts saw the 29-year-old cling onto the ball for dear life, eventually getting near enough to ground, as the French hit back, with Morgan Parra adding the extras.
This joy was short-lived however. Not long after, Savea scored his second of the night, showing brute determination to bounce off two defenders like rag-dolls, Jonah Lomu-esque after receiving from Retallick, as the referee brought the half to a close, with the score 29-13 to New Zealand.
Picaomles in a pickle
Following the interval, the French were perhaps more spirited in their efforts to at least keep the All Blacks stifled.
This couldn’t though, prevent ill-discipline, after a rush of blood to the head from Picaomles, saw him put his fist into the face of Richie McCaw and consequently be showed his way to the sin bin.
It didn’t take long for the All Blacks to make the one-man advantage count. After quick hands, the ball was worked out to the left with Jerome Kaino invited to run into the gap in the French resistance for his first of the night.
The introduction of former heavyweight boxer and ex-rugby league player Sonny Bill Williams seemed to add insult to injury for France, who were showing little in the way of a response, often running sideways rather than making yards in straight lines.
On the hour mark, Savea crossed for his second hat-trick of the World Cup in what was arguably his performance of the tournament, with Carter converting.
When Charlie Faumuina offloaded for Kieran Read to cross under the posts, this definitely put the game beyond doubt as Carter again converted, though there was no let-up from the All Blacks.
Unstoppable New Zealand
Minutes later, a burst from Williams, saw him offload to Nonu, who fed scrum half Tawera Kerr-Barlow to score with Carter again adding the extras. It really was champagne rugby. Oh the irony in that saying.
While the goal for France thereafter must clearly have been damage limitation, this seemed to make no difference. By now, the southern hemisphere side had hit top gear and they were nowhere near stopping. The introduction of Mathieu Bastareaud seemed to have made no difference for the French and not long after they were taking a breather once more.
A nice little offload from forward Joe Moody slipped Kerr-Barlow in for his second and Carter took hi personal tally to 17 points for the night.
In what was the last act of the match, Nonu broke clear and should have been rewarded for his efforts, only for a last-gasp tackle which saw the 33-year-old drop the ball just short of the line. It was a tackle which saved the French from a record defeat, as New Zealand, odds-on at 8/13 to win the World Cup with Coral, ran out deserved 62-13 winners. For most of the France squad, while it might not be ‘Goodbye’ to rugby, it is certainly ‘Au Revoir’ to this tournament.
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