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Preview: New Zealand vs France (09-06-18)


Eden Park, Auckland Sat 09 Jun 2018
NZ Kick-off: 19:35 local (08:35 BST, 07:35 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), John Lacey (Ireland)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)

NZL (on 93.99 points) at home -vs- FRA (on 79.10 points)


Possible Outcome Rating Point
Will FRA
overtake NZL?
If NZL win by 1-15 points 0.000 93.99 79.10 No
If NZL win by more than 15 0.000 93.99 79.10 No
If result is a draw 1.000 92.99 80.10 No
If FRA win by 1-15 points 2.000 91.99 81.10 No
If FRA win by more than 15 3.000 90.99 82.10 No

New Zealand will get their 2018 international campaign underway when they host France in Auckland on Saturday in the first of three eagerly anticipated Tests.

The All Blacks head into this series as overwhelming favourites as they have dominated this fixture in recent years. France have a reputation of giving the All Blacks a hard time but if truth be told, the world champions have dominated les Bleus.

The All Blacks have won the last 11 matches between these sides and the last series contested on New Zealand soil saw the All Blacks claim a 3-0 series victory in 2013.

France have shown signs of improvement under head coach Jacques Brunel but could only win two out of five matches during their Six Nations campaign earlier this year and eventually finished in fourth place in that tournament’s standings.

Those two Six Nations triumphs were registered against Italy and England, who both finished below them on the final table, but it must be remembered that les Bleus came agonisingly close to beating eventual champions Ireland in their tournament opener until an injury time drop-goal from Johnny Sexton spared Irish blushes.

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen expects a tough encounter for his charges and highlighted his opponents’ prowess on defence.

“Statistically they are the best defensive team in world rugby at the moment,” he said.

“They run at about a 92 percent tackle completion rate and are only letting in one and half tries per game. So we’ve got a massive challenge on our hands and one that we are really excited about facing.”

The All Blacks head into this clash minus the services of several first-choice players due to injury, but despite being without regular captain Kieran Read (back), Sonny Bill Williams (knee) and Brodie Retallick (pectoral muscle), there is plenty of depth in their ranks and Hansen has been able to call on Luke Whitelock, Anton Lienert-Brown and Scott Barrett to fill in for the injured trio.

By contrast, France have rested regular skipper Guilhem Guirado for this series and are also without the services of several experienced players like Virimi Vakatawa, Francois Trinh-Duc, Yoann Huget, Maxime Machenaud, Lionel Beauxis and Brice Dulin who are amongst 13 players ruled out of the series through injury.

If France manage to beat New Zealand in this match, they will end the All Blacks’ 24-year winning run at Eden Park. The world champions have gone unbeaten at the iconic ground for 40 straight Test matches since their 23-20 loss to les Bleus in 1994.

The match is an historic one for New Zealand too, particularly the Barrett brothers – Beauden, Scott and Jordie – as they will become the first trio of siblings to start a Test together for the All Blacks.

Previous results:

2017: New Zealand won 38-18 in Paris
2016: New Zealand won 24-19 in Paris
2015: New Zealand won 62-13 (World Cup quarter-final) in Cardiff
2013: New Zealand won 26-19 in Paris
2013: New Zealand won 24-09 in New Plymouth
2013: New Zealand won 30-00 in Christchurch
2013: New Zealand won 23-13 in Auckland
2011: New Zealand won 08-07 (World Cup final) in Auckland
2011: New Zealand won 37-17 (World Cup pool) in Auckland
2009: New Zealand won 39-12 in Marseille
2009: New Zealand won 14-10 in Wellington
2009: France won 27-22 in Dunedin

The teams:

New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock (c), 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Ngani Laumape

France: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud (c), 12 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 11 Remy Grosso, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Fabien Sanconnie, 7 Kelian Gourdon, 6 Judicaël Cancoriet, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Paul Gabrillagues, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Dany Priso
Replacements: 16 Adrien Pélissié, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Bernard Le Roux, 20 Alexandre Lapandry, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Jules Plisson, 23 Gael Fickou

Date: Saturday, June 9
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19:35 local (08:35 BST, 07:35 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), John Lacey (Ireland)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)



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