Piutau stars in tight All Blacks win
November 9, 2013
Winger Charles Piutau orchestrated both tries for the All Blacks, scoring one and setting up the second
© Getty Images
Two moments of class from wing Charles Piutau helped the All Blacks pull clear of France to win a dramatic Test in Paris 26-19. New Zealand recorded their eighth successive win over the French and their 12th from 12 Tests this year but not before battling to quell the pugnacious hosts.
The All Blacks were fortunate to be level with 9-9 after a bruising first half and it was 12-12 soon after the break before Piutau broke the game open. The least-experienced player in an All Blacks starting XV which boasted a world record 853 caps, Piutau showed his speed to score from long range in the 46th minute. His skill was on show 15 minutes from the end when a superb pass put No.8 Kieran Read over. They then had to withstand a surging finish from France, who crossed through fullback Brice Dulin in the 69th minute and launched an assault on the All Blacks' tryline for the last 5 minutes.
France produced one of the best performances of a disappointing year in which they have won just one of nine Tests. They outplayed the All Blacks in most areas in the first half, firstly by frustrating their opponents with staunch defence on a heavy Stade de France surface. They then stretched the All Blacks defence more thoroughly than any team this year, forcing them to miss tackles. New Zealand were also guilty of too many turnovers and failing to adjust to South African referee Jaco Peyper's rulings, losing the penalty count 12-7.
The game opened on a lively note when All Blacks wing Cory Jane, playing his first Test of an injury-plagued year, was bundled out over the tryline in the third minute. It was the closest either team got to a try in a slow-moving first half dominated by the whistle. All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter and French scrum-half Morgan Parra landed three penalties each before halftime, with the Frenchman missing two other shots.
The pair slotted another penalty each after the break before Piutau's try in the 46th minute blew the game open. He won the race to a Ben Smith grubber kick, toeing on himself and diving over to score in front of opposite Yoann Huget. Piutau's pass to send Read clear was a brilliant effort, drawing two defenders before sending a reserve flick to his team-mate, who strolled 20m untouched.
Roared on a by a crowd of 80,000, France dominated the closing minutes. Dulin scorched over from close range to score and No.8 Damien Chouly nearly had their second minutes later but he was held up. The All Blacks were relieved to win a scrum penalty on the stroke of full-time to deny the gallant hosts.
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