Article

France frustrated by officials again as All Blacks complete sweep in style

23 June 2018 11:25

New Zealand completed an unconvincing series sweep over France with another controversial yet comfortable triumph, 49-14, in Dunedin on Saturday.

The All Blacks had profited from refereeing calls in the prior two Tests - France suffering a contentious sin-binning in the first, before Benjamin Fall's subsequently rescinded red card in the second - and, against a full-strength side, they were worked hard in this one.

Indeed, the intervention of an official again impacted the match when referee John Lacey appeared to obstruct Baptiste Serin as Damian McKenzie gave New Zealand a half-time lead.

A more confident New Zealand display followed the restart, with McKenzie at the fore and Rieko Ioane scoring a hat-trick, as France fell well short.

Yet a series in which Steve Hansen's side won comfortably on three occasions can offer relatively little encouragement, with slow starts and favourable decisions the central themes.

As in the previous Tests, France began on the front foot and only a desperate Aaron Smith lunge prevented Teddy Thomas escaping early on.

The visitors then lost key man Morgan Parra to a head injury, but it was his replacement who soon made a deserved breakthrough. Les Bleus worked the ball back and forth in front of the scrambling All Blacks, before Serin sold a dummy and dived across the line.

That try belatedly drew a response from New Zealand, though, and Ben Smith tore through a gaping hole in the French side to equalise.

Matt Todd drove through a maul from a lineout to cross and nudge the hosts in front, but they were pegged back when Wesley Fofana bounced off a pair of tackles to lunge over the line.

However, as an entertaining first half continued, France again had reason to be upset with the officiating when, following a scrum, Lacey inadvertently blocked Serin's path and McKenzie raced away to score.

That proved to be the boost the All Blacks needed and McKenzie slalomed through for a second try shortly after half-time.

McKenzie then turned provider with a speedy offload to Ioane, who streaked clear for a fifth try, before another ruthless move created an opening for the same man to double his tally.

Debutant Shannon Frizell was denied by a video review, ruled to have fallen just short of the line, but it was a temporary reprieve for France as Ioane got his third to cap the scoring.

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