New Zealand’s night out in Paris was as raw boned as they come. After starting well, they were pinned back by a fervent French effort, but in that first half, their rearguard was outstanding.
As we have come to expect from this side, when their chance eventually came, they took it like a boxer waiting for an opening in his opponent’s defence.
The grubber from Ben Smith was weighted perfectly, the chase and dab forward from Charles Piutau was executed with skill and at high speed, and the All Blacks had the French back on the leash.
Piutau’s sleight of hand for Kieran Read’s try was as though the youngster was channeling Sonny Bill Williams in his pomp.
France hurled the kitchen sink at Steve Hansen’s side, and it was only when the gap had become unbridgeable that they managed to puncture their defences.
This contest arguably extended New Zealand moreso than their clash with South Africa in Johannesburg last month, and they were not found wanting.