France cruise to victory over Blues in New Zealand

France proved to be too strong for Auckland Super Rugby franchise the Blues as they ran in four tries on their way to a 15-38 victory at North Harbour Stadium in Albany.

Fiji-born winger Noa Nakaitaci scored two tries within two minutes in the second
half of a tour match which bridged their first and second tests against New
Zealand.

Right winger Nakaitaci, who plays for Clermont Auvergne in the Top 14, touched
down in the 50th and 52nd minutes to allow France to run away with the match
against the Auckland-based Blues after leading 12-3 at halftime.

Centre Gael Fickou and replacement hooker Benjamin Kayser also scored second-half
tries while scrumhalf Jean-Marc Doussain kicked three conversions and four penalties
for 18 points as France recovered from their 23-13 first test loss to New Zealand
on Saturday.

Tuesday’s match gave France coach Philippe Saint-Andre the chance to assess
the form of members of his touring squad who missed the first test at Eden Park,
ahead of the second at Christchurch on Saturday.

It also allowed players involved in the French club final 10 days ago and
who were not considered for the first test to press selection claims for the
second.

In that light, Doussain was impressive and has a chance of starting at scrumhalf
in Christchurch if Maxime Machenaud, who was injured in the first test, is ruled
unfit.

Fullback Maxime Medard was France’s most penetrative back in the first half
and center Maxime Mermoz ran strongly in the second, combining well with his
midfield partner Fickou.

France were overwhelmingly dominant at scrums and physically and technically
superior to the Blues at breakdowns, as they were against the All Blacks at
Eden Park last weekend.

The French used a steady supply of front-foot ball to attack the Blues strongly
through the backs in the second half, combining well and finishing with confidence
when the opportunity arose.

The French defence was also well organized, though it let in tries to Blues
captain James Parsons and winger George Moala in the 57th and 63rd minutes,
allowing the Blues to cut a 31-3 lead to 31-15.

Prop Yannick Myanga, who captained France on Tuesday, said the match served
its purpose for France, giving several players the chance to press claims to
test selection.

“We are very happy with this win against a mighty New Zealand team,”
Nyanga said.

“We knew it was a hard game for us because it was between two test games
and also some of our players were playing for the first time for the French
national team.

“So it wasn’t easy to prepare and we played very well tonight and I’m
very happy with the win. All of the players who played tonight wanted to ensure
they can have a cap next Saturday against the All Blacks.”

“I think we played our best and it’s now for the coach to decide.”

Doussain, who was a late replacement in the Rugby World Cup final on Eden Park
two years ago, made a strong impression on Tuesday, kicking four first-half
penalties to furnish his team’s halftime lead.

He finished with seven goals from nine attempts.

Fickou ran in France’s first try in the 44th minute, then Nakaitaci touched
down twice in quick succession to put the result of the match beyond doubt.

His first try began with a strong break by left winger Marc Andreu and his
second came after the ball moved the full length of the French backline before
Nakaitaci stepped inside his marker.

Kayser added the last try in the 67th minute, clinching the match after Auckland’s
brief rally.

Also impressive for France were flanker Bernard le Roux and South Africa-born
backrower Antonie Claasen, whose father Wynand led the Springboks against the
All Blacks in New Zealand in 1981.

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