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Jim Kayes

Jim Kayes has been covering rugby since the late 1990s across print/online, radio and television with The Dominion Post, Stuff.co.nz, TV3 and Newshub, Radio Live and Radio Sport.  He's been to five World Cups, covered almost 200 All Blacks Tests and was on safari with the Lions when the British and Irish side last toured New Zealand, in 2005.

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OPINION: France prove that they can never be discounted

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Jim Kayes     12 Nov 2017     Getty Images

History has taught us to be wary of French revivals just as the All Blacks have struggled to produce a quality 80 minute performance all year.

That they held on to win, 38-18, despite having very little ball in the second half against a French side that found its mojo, is testament to their tenacity.

QUICK TAP: FIRST HALF CLASS GETS ALL BLACKS HOME OVER TENACIOUS FRANCE

But once again coach Steve Hansen will be wondering how his team can be so good and so bad all in the space of one game.

Think back to the first Test against the Wallabies when they All Blacks led 40-6 at halftime only to allow the Wallabies back into the game before winning 54-34.

You can count on just a few fingers the games they have dominated throughout. I reckon the first Test against the Lions in Auckland and the thrashing of South Africa in Albany.

In Paris the All Blacks were very good in the first half as they led 31-5 at the break having scored four very good tries.

Beauden Barrett was in his pomp and Rieko Ioane was all class and showed the benefits of a wing who can score but who is also happy to create for others.
But the wheels fell off at the break which can happen against France.

Remember 1999 and the World Cup semifinal when Jonah Lomu scored just after the break to give the All Blacks a 14-point lead only for France to then score 23 points and win?

This is France. They can never be discounted. They should never be written off. Sure, they may get thrashed more often than they’d like, and yes they have now lost 18 of their last 20 tests against the All Blacks, but they will always have the ability to surprise.

They scored 13 points soon after the break with a penalty try after Sonny Bill Williams batted the ball dead. You can do it in league, but not in union.

France would have scored more had wing Teddy Thomas not slipped his foot into touch.
It really would have been ‘game on’ then.

The All Blacks did well to stem the French tide, to wrest a little bit of control back and to finish with a try to wing Waisake Naholo.

He and Ioane are all class with their work rates, speed, eye for the tryline and their passing skills which so often create tries for others.

Ryan Crotty was also very good at centre, Sam Cane was immense with and without the ball, and skipper Kieran Read seems to be back to his best.

The scrum, after an early wobble, improved throughout the first half and that continues to be encouraging considering how inexperienced the props are.

It’s also important to remember the All Blacks won - and by 20 points.

That can, at times, be forgotten when it has been a patchy performance.

And it’s not a bad thing that the All Blacks have been reminded, yet again, that composure, a low error count and good discipline is important in every Test match and especially against France.