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All Blacks Cut Loose To Hammer France

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All Blacks Cut Loose To Hammer France

By Mark Geenty of NZPA

Marseille, Nov 28 NZPA - It was a long wait, but it was worth it as the All Blacks finally roared into gear to hammer France 39-12 and complete another unbeaten rugby tour of Europe here today.

After frustrating victories over Wales, Italy and England where they scored three tries in all, the All Blacks' backs cut loose on the firm Stade Velodrome turf to race in five tries to none and reclaim the Dave Gallaher Trophy.

Wearing white jerseys for a rare occasion on foreign soil, their clean defensive sheet also sealed a second consecutive four-match tour of Europe where they'd kept their opponents tryless.

Inspirational captain Richie McCaw ended the match named the International Rugby Board's player of the year.

France began with a roar but had little answer to the All Blacks' speed and power, and their frustration showed in the dying minutes when two ugly melees broke out.

Sitiveni Sivivatu, Mils Muliaina, Jerome Kaino, Cory Jane and Conrad Smith scored the All Blacks' tries, with the latter one of their best players and No 8 Kieran Read rampaging all over the field.

Record All Blacks test pointscorer Dan Carter kicked six from seven for a 14-point haul as he guided a hungry backline around before a stunned home crowd of 60,000.

After much hand-wringing over the state of test rugby, the All Blacks showed there was still room for an open, running game as they punched away at the fringes and counter-attacked brilliantly, with Muliaina producing another standout performance at the back.

The win avenged the All Blacks' 22-27 defeat in Dunedin in June when they lost the trophy, and inflicted France's second defeat in 10 tests here. The All Blacks lost their only previous test against France here, 42-33 in 2000.

The atmosphere was electric as the teams prepared for kickoff, with French props Fabien Barcella and Sylvain Marconnet lingering after the All Blacks' haka in a tense face-off.

The fired-up duo took it onto the field and led a demolition of the first scrum which saw Julien Dupuy goal a handy penalty.

But the All Blacks' confidence on attack soon paid dividends as they attacked from a lineout, hit some holes and from the second phase Carter sent Sivivatu away for a stroll to the line around his marker Vincent Clerc.

France had their attacking chances but the All Blacks' defence was solid; with Barcella butchering a try when he ignored an unmarked David Marty after Yannick Jauzion cut through.

The hosts had to be content with penalties as the accurate Dupuy goaled two in a row to make it 9-7, including a 50m effort off the upright.

The All Blacks then seized control in the 23rd minute with a magnificent counter-attacking try from inside their own 22m, started by a long Muliaina pass before Sivivatu scorched down the left flank and in-passed to his fullback who cruised in.

Another Read linebreak after a Carter chip saw lock Tom Donnelly go agonisingly close before losing the ball, but from the next scrum the All Blacks turned the tables on the hosts with a mighty shove which saw Kaino slap the ball down to score.

Carter's conversion made it 22-9 before a 35m Francois Trinh-Duc dropped goal narrowed the gap to 10 at the break.

Dupuy's radar deserted him after halftime with two key misses just as France were threatening to storm back.

Carter extended the lead with his second penalty and began to take charge, running at the line and kicking expertly in general play.

Huge one-on-one hits from Read and Sivivatu kept the All Blacks on attack, and another counter saw the tourists seal it in the 63rd minute when Jane dashed down the touchline and ran onto his own centre kick to score under the posts.

Smith added the icing in the 71st minute when he dashed blind from a ruck, after which the French frustration boiled over with Tony Woodcock and Clerc squaring up in a melee which saw All Blacks coaching staff Mike Cron and Mick Byrne step in to add calm.

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