Hansen : All Blacks still need to refine their game

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says that they will need to get back to the drawing board after France exposed flaws in his new game plan for the world champions.

Although the All Blacks scrambled to a 23-13 victory at Eden Park, the match was “ugly at times” in Hansen’s words as he admitted he was not happy with the performance.

“So we’ll go away and review the match and try and get rid of the avoidable errors, of which I think there were 25, and work away at refining what we’re trying to do,” he said.

France led for most of the first half until the All Blacks snared two converted tries in the space of five minutes just before the break.

They had chances in the second half to regain the lead but let themselves down through handling errors, leading Les Bleus coach Philippe Saint-Andre to lament that an “opportunity to win” was lost.

With a raft of senior All Blacks unavailable, including the injured Dan Carter and the resting Richie McCaw, the opening Test of the season offered younger faces in the squad a chance to shine.

And they did when it mattered most for Hansen, producing his highlight of the game with a staunch defence when France battered their line for several minutes in the second half

“The piece I liked the most, we were in our 22 for quite a sustained period, three or four scrums, a lot of pick and goes, and we had a young side out there who kept their composure,” he said.

“That’s the type of player we need to win big Test matches. There was no panic. Guys just went about doing their job and that was very encouraging.”

But the inconsistent attack let the side down with Hansen saying they were close to creating scoring opportunities but not close enough.

“What we’re taking off the white board on to the training track looks great, but until you get real opposition you don’t know how things are going to go,” he said.

“Some of the things we tried we’re going to have to refine to get the gains we want out of them.

“There were times tonight when we had areas as ball carriers we didn’t have enough cleaners and that’s probably not the fault of the players it’s the fault of the game plan and we need to adjust that.”

France scored first when Florian Fritz carved through the All Blacks to send inside centre Wesley Fofana over for the try.

Maxime Machenaud added the conversion for France to lead 7-0 before Aaron Cruden put the All Blacks on the board with his first penalty.

In a helter-skelter close to the first half, Ben Smith made a decisive break to put Aaron Smith over for a try, Machenaud replied with a penalty, then Ma’a Nonu beat Camille Lopez to set up a try for Sam Cane for the All Blacks to lead 17-10.

After Lopez and Cruden exchanged penalties to have the All Blacks ahead 20-13 in the second half, Louis Picamoles squandered a chance for France to draw level when he knocked-on in front of an open try-line and under the posts.

Just before the final whistle, Cruden landed his third penalty to settle the outcome.

The second Test is in Christchurch next Saturday with the third in New Plymouth a week later.

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