25 Sep 2011

All Blacks beat France to secure quarter-final spot

9:50 pm on 25 September 2011

The All Blacks steadied the nerves of a nation with an emphatic 37-17 win over France at Eden Park on Saturday to secure a place in the World Cup quarter-finals as Pool A winners with a game to spare.

Haunted by the memories of premature exits at the hands of the French in the 1999 and 2007 tournaments, New Zealanders had been jittery all week at the prospect of facing the Europeans.

But tries from Adam Thomson, Cory Jane, Sonny Bill Williams and two from fullback Israel Dagg, as well as 12 points from the boot of Dan Carter, allowed them to bury the ghosts of past World Cup failures for the group stage at least.

The New Zealand pack, led by Richie McCaw in his 100th test, overpowered the French in the scrum and harried them in the loose to allow their backs the perfect platform to display their skills.

"We had to absorb a fair bit early on and I am proud the boys did that and when we got our opportunities we put points on the board," said McCaw.

"In big tests that's what you have got to do, so very happy."

The French, who play Tonga in their final pool match on 1 October, are still likely to finish second in the group and reach the last eight.

Scorers

New Zealand: Tries: Israel Dagg (2), Cory Jane, Adam Thomson, Sonny Bill Williams. Conversions: Daniel Carter (3). Drop goal: Carter.

France: Tries: Maxime Mermoz, Francois Trinh-Duc. Conversions: Dimitri Yachvili (2). Penalty: Yachvili.

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland).