Rugby World Cup 2011: New Zealand 37-17 France

By James StandleyBBC Sport
Cory Jane scored a spectacular try for New Zealand
Jane's try - New Zealand's second - came in the middle of a first-half flurry

New Zealand brushed aside World Cup bogey team France to take a decisive grip on Pool A.

Adam Thomson, Cory Jane and Israel Dagg tries helped the All Blacks into a 19-0 lead before France managed a Dimitri Yachvili penalty just before the break.

Dagg added his second try before Maxime Mermoz claimed an interception score.

Dan Carter then added a drop-goal and although Francois Trinh-Duc claimed a converted France try, Sonny Bill Williams added a fifth for New Zealand.

The only consolation for the French is that they now look destined to finish second in the group, which would take them into what is considered to be the easier side of the draw.

France have earned their reputation as New Zealand's bogey team after stunning the All Blacks in the knockout stages of the 1999 and 2007 World Cups.

This year's fixture had long been identified as one of the key contests in the 2011 pool stages but the build-up to the match had been affected by France coach Marc Lievremont's decision to select what some observers felt was a below strength team, including Morgan Parra, normally a scrum-half, at fly-half.

The move had drawn strong criticism from parts of the New Zealand media and France started the game looking determined to prove their critics wrong.

Parra duly hit the post with an early drop-goal as Les Bleus dominated the opening stages but the All Blacks weathered the early storm and promptly scored from their first attack.

Ma'a Nonu sliced through the French defence and embarked on a powerful 40m run and although he was hauled down just short, New Zealand recycled and Carter, with quick hands, and Dagg combined to send Thomson over in the corner.

Eight minutes later Jane - who was replaced after 33 minutes by Sonny Bill Williams because he went into the game feeling unwell - appeared on scrum-half Piri Weepu's shoulder after the All Blacks won a line-out.

The winger took a sympathetic delayed pop pass and seared through the gap before rounding Maxime Medard and diving over for a score of surgical precision.

Carter, who had missed the earlier conversion, made no mistake this time and then turned provider.

A conjuror's slight of hand saw him dummy through the first line of defence before the fly-half's pass provided Dagg with the simplest of tries.

Carter added the conversion to make it 19-0 with only a quarter of the game gone.

A shell-shocked France finally got on the board when Yachvili slotted a penalty after he had been obstructed by Jerome Kaino.

But it was no more than a token effort and New Zealand soon had the scoreboard ticking over in the second half as Carter opened up the defence once more and Dagg stepped his way over for his second try, clinching the four-try bonus point in the process.

Carter's conversion and a subsequent penalty took the score out to 29-3 but the star fly-half then blotted his copybook as he threw a wide pass which Mermoz intercepted before galloping clear to score.

Yachvili's conversion cut the gap to 29-10 but any suggestion of the comeback to end all comebacks was quickly extinguished as New Zealand resumed control of the game.

Sonny Bill Williams is all smiles after scoring
Sonny Bill Williams finished off the last of a series of sweeping attacks

Carter popped over a drop-goal and although Trinh-Duc scored a converted try for France, New Zealand were determined to have the final word.

Ali Williams plucked the re-start kick from the air and after Colin Slade made good ground down the left, New Zealand spun the ball across to the far corner for Sonny Bill Williams to score as the All Blacks left Les Bleus feeling decidedly off colour.

New Zealand: Dagg; Jane, Smith, Nonu, Kahui; Carter, Weepu; Woodcock, Mealamu, O Franks, Thorn, Whitelock, Kaino, McCaw, Thomson.

Replacements: S Williams for Jane (34), Slade for Kahui (61), Ellis for Weepu (55), Hore for Mealamu (55), B Franks for O Franks (69), A Williams for Whitelock (55), Boric for Thomson (71).

France: Traille; Clerc, Rougerie, Mermoz, Medard; Parra, Yachvili; Poux, Szarzewski, Ducalcon, Pape, Nallet, Dusautoir, Bonnaire, Picamoles.

Replacements: Heymans for Traille (40), Trinh-Duc for Parra (64), Barcella for Ducalcon (40), Pierre for Pape (65), Harinordoquy for Picamoles (40), Servat for Szarzewski (53), Estebanez for Rougerie (65).

Att: 60,000

Ref: Alain Rolland (Ireland).