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The All Blacks have beaten the French at Eden Park 52-11 to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series in a game that really was sadly too strongly impacted by a few key refereeing decisions.
New Zealand 52
The June series kicks off as the All Blacks look to defend their incredible record at Eden Park against France in Game 1 of a three-match series. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match from 5:35pm (AEST).
French rugby is improving under their new coach, Jacques Brunel.
Known for running hot and cold, Brunel has turned France into one of the most effective defensive units in world rugby.
The early benefits of this were seen in the Six Nations, with a good win against England, while they were actually leading as the final hooter sounded against champions Ireland.
Sadly, the French will be hampered by some injuries to key players. Fans won’t get to see the likes of skipper Guilhem Guirado, Virimi Vakatawa, Francois Trinh-Duc, Yoann Huget, Maxime Machenaud, Lionel Beauxis or Brice Dulin – some significant talent missing.
Morgan Parra will bring experience and skill though, as he returns at #9, and the French have some real danger players including Teddy Thomas, who is able to score from anywhere and the All Blacks will need to make sure they don’t switch off for a second.
For the All Blacks, Kieran Read and Sonny Bill Williams are big omissions. SBW hasn’t had the season that he’d have wanted so far thanks to injury but he’s a proven performer.
The selection of Jordie Barrett at fullback, moving Ben Smith to the wing, gives some indication that Steve Hansen is expecting plenty of aerial bombardment. Jordie is tall and solid under the high ball and Smith is ever dependable.
The French will have to play the game of their lives to trouble the home side.
After a bit of a rocky 2017, the All Blacks will want to impress from the first whistle. A scary prospect.
New Zealand to win by 18.
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match from 5:35pm (AEST).