/ Rugby

New Zealand 37-17 France

Updated: Saturday, 24 Sep 2011 12:14

Richie McCaw became the first All Black to win 100 caps in Saturday's win over France in Eden Park
Richie McCaw became the first All Black to win 100 caps in Saturday's win over France in Eden Park

New Zealand underlined their status as World Cup favourites with an emphatic demolition of France at Eden Park.

The All Blacks had established a 19-0 lead by the end of the first quarter with the try-scoring bonus point arriving just 55 seconds after the interval.

Israel Dagg crossed twice while Adam Thompson, Cory Jane and Sonny Bill Williams also breached the whitewash in a surprisingly easily victory.

The boot of fly-half Dan Carter completed the rout in Auckland as New Zealand, led by Richie McCaw who won his 100th cap today, maintained their record of having never lost a World Cup group match.

Maxime Mermoz and Francois Trinh-Duc ran in tries for France but it was a disappointing performance from Marc Lievremont's side.

It had been suggested that Lievremont had selected a weakened line-up for the toughest game of Pool A and the most eagerly awaited showdown of the World Cup's group stage.

Much of the attention focused on the selection of Morgan Parra at fly-half, but he was surrounded by mediocrity and only the arrival of reinforcements from the bench evened the contest.

France enjoyed some promising moments during an eventful start, initiated when Parra forced a useful opening.

A drop goal attempt from the Clermont fly-half struck the uprights and almost bounced into the arms of number eight Louis Picamoles, only for the All Blacks to scramble in time.

Full-back Damien Traille then threatened to catch a crossfield bomb by Dimitri Yachvili, but Jane took him out as he was landing.

The encouraging start had come to an abrupt end by the 20th minute, however, as New Zealand capitalised on some feeble defence to race 19-0 ahead.

The first try was scored by Thompson, who completed a move started when Ma'a Nonu when charging through the midfield.

France were wobbling with Parra seeing two kicks charged down and their situation deteriorated when Maxime Medard waved Jane through for a try from a line-out.

Les Bleus were exposed once more when Carter worked a opening near the breakdown that should never have been there to send Dagg racing over.

With Carter landing two of the three conversions, France looked beaten by the end of the first quarter.

Yachvili landed a penalty as the half neared its conclusion - the scrum-half dived after being struck lightly by flanker Jerome Kaino - but there appeared no way back for them.

Their bleak position was confirmed just 55 seconds after the interval when Dagg skipped his way over the whitewash from close range after Carter had burst into space.

The drubbing continued as Carter rifled over a penalty and the French scrum repeatedly came under heavy pressure.

A glimmer of hope was offered when centre Mermoz intercepted a loose pass from Carter and raced over unopposed, celebrating his try extravagantly despite his side's unenviable position.

Yachvili kicked the conversion and France's fortunes were soon transformed, coinciding with the arrival of William Servat, Imanol Harinordoquy, Cedric Heymans and Trinh-Duc from the bench.

A quickly-taken penalty by Yachvili allowed Trinh-Duc to slip over, but there was a hint of controversy about the score as the All Blacks were unaware play had restarted.

New Zealand's response was emphatic, however, as Ali Williams athletically caught the restart, allowing Williams to cross under the posts with Carter converting.

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