All Blacks hold out resurgent France

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    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Steve Hansen says his hot and cold All Blacks have learned another important lesson in Paris.

    The world champions produced the latest of many stuttering displays this year in seeing off a resurgent France 38-18 on Saturday.

    It was a classic Test of two halves, with New Zealand having romped 31-5 clear in an alarmingly one-sided first spell before threatening to melt in the face of an inspired home side after the break.

    Four of New Zealand’s five tries came in the compelling opening 40 minutes.

    The messiness after halftime was encapsulated by a brain fade from second five-eighth Sonny Bill Williams which resulted in a yellow card and penalty try.

    With little pressure on him, Williams deliberately batted a cross kick over the dead ball line, a play he would have got away with in his former code league.

    It seemed to ignite the French, who dominated 88 per cent of territory in the second half and were only denied by some staunch All Blacks defence in the slippery conditions.

    Hansen says while there are positives to take from the five-tries-to-two win, he can understand why there is frustration at his team’s inconsistency.

    Poor discipline, most notably 11 penalties conceded after halftime, was their biggest fault, he said.

    “As a result of that, we allowed the momentum to shift.

    “The French were good enough to take advantage and put us under pressure but I was happy with the way we fought our way through it.

    “We’d scored enough points in the first half to get the job done.”

    Hansen repeated his refrain of several months now that it will take time for several new players he is blooding this year to come up to Test standard.

    “We’ve just got to be patient and keep making sure that off the park we’re learning as much as we can.”

    The All Blacks got on top early against an injury-ravaged French side fielding six uncapped players and two young halves making their first Test starts.

    Playmaker Beauden Barrett, who missed last month’s loss to the Wallabies in Brisbane, was influential in general play and landed all his six shots at goal.

    Barrett set up the first two tries with neat passes – the first a short ball to hooker Dane Coles and the second a loopy cut-out to winger Waisake Naholo.

    France responded with a slick team try to winger Teddy Thomas, reducing the scoreline to 17-5.

    With French prop Rabah Slimani in the sin bin for repeat scrum offences, the All Blacks crossed twice through centre Ryan Crotty and flanker Sam Cane.

    First five-eighth Anthony Belleau, who enjoyed a promising debut, landed penalty goals either side of the penalty try as France threatened their first win over the All Blacks in 11 Tests.

    The All Blacks scored against the run of play on the final hooter when Naholo bagged his second try.

    Hansen said Coles was to have his left knee assessed after exiting the Test in the first half.

    Captain Kieran Read was replaced because of a groin niggle which Hansen didn’t rate as serious.

    © AAP 2017