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New Zealand power past France

New Zealand fly-half Beauden Barrett scored 13 points as he converted all six of his kicks at goal during the 38-13 victory over France. Reuters/Benoit Tessier

New Zealand scored their 2,000th international try during their 38-18 win over France on Saturday night at the Stade de France. Ryan Crotty registered the landmark score. It was the third of four first-half tries that helped to establish a 31-5 lead over the hosts.

Dane Coles opened the score for the visitors after nine minutes. Beauden Barrett converted and added a penalty to give the All Blacks a 10-0 lead after 16 minutes during which France had barely touched the ball.

Waisake Naholo then trotted seemingly embarrassed over the line on the right wing, after successive scrums near the French goalposts had sucked in defenders, before the ball was flung out wide.

Another Barrett conversion underlined the All Blacks superiority in the opening exchanges.

Teddy Thomas’s dive on the right hand side perked up the crowed to reduce the deficit to 17-5, but the game was effectively lost when Rabah Slimani was sent to the sin bin after 34 minutes for several fouls.

During his absence, Crotty touched down following Sonny Bill Wlliams’s deft kick under two onrushing defenders and Sam Cane added another try just before half-time. With Barrett converting both tries, New Zealand sauntered in for their half-time talk leading 31-5.

With humiliation staring the cream of French rugby in the face, Guy Noves’s men started the second period fired up. There was more purpose about their play. Debutant fly-half Antoine Belleau converted a penalty to make it 31-8.

Williams was given a yellow card for impeding a catch in the end zone and France were awarded a penalty try. Another Belleau penalty set up an intriguing last quarter as the Stade de France found its voice with heartier renditions of the French national anthem.

But despite the fervour, the try for the home side never came. The score remained stubbornly at 31-18 and as the clock ticked down, Naholo delivered the sucker punch in the dying seconds.