Brothers celebrate reunion as Kiwis march on

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The Independent Online

New Zealand continued their high-scoring march through the World Cup, taking their points tally for the tournament to 260 with an emphatic victory over France at Castleford last night. The Kiwis now take on England in the semi-final at Bolton next Saturday, looking in prime form and with as good a chance of lifting the World Cup for the first time as in any of their 12 attempts so far.

New Zealand continued their high-scoring march through the World Cup, taking their points tally for the tournament to 260 with an emphatic victory over France at Castleford last night. The Kiwis now take on England in the semi-final at Bolton next Saturday, looking in prime form and with as good a chance of lifting the World Cup for the first time as in any of their 12 attempts so far.

Frank Endacott, the Kiwis' coach, could afford to rest his most influential player, the scrum-half Stacey Jones, and the winger Lesley Vainikolo, in readiness for sterner tasks ahead. With the Paul brothers, Henry and Robbie, reunited at half-back and the mighty Quentin Pongia back from injury at prop, the Kiwis had far too much power and pace for the French.

France, without a Test victory over New Zealand for 20 years, had improved steadily through the group stages but, after a bright start, they faded badly as they proved unable to cope with the sheer physical presence of the opposing forwards and the range of attacking options so brilliantly orchestrated by the Pauls. After Henry Paul kicked the first of his seven goals - a second-minute penalty - second row Matt Rua charged on to Robbie Paul's pass to score the first of the Kiwis' 10 tries.

Converted tries by the props Pongia and Craig Smith in a three-minute spell midway through the first half broke the French resistance and Robbie Paul grabbed his first try after Willie Talau's kick took a kind deflection. Stephen Kearney added the fifth try to send his side in with a commanding 30-0 advantage at the break.

With the Kiwis throwing the ball around at every opportunity the French faced up to a second half of damage limitation. However, Robbie Paul, Brian Jellick and Talau, after a superb 50-metre break down the left, added further tries within 10 minutes of the re-start.

At last the French gave their supporters something to cheer when their winger, Claude Sirvent, pounced on a fumble by Nigel Vagana after a grubber kick by their captain, Fabien Devecchi, to score. But Richie Blackmore collected Robbie Paul's pass to score on the right, before the Kiwi scrum-half completed a hat-trick of tries after supporting a surging break by Ruben Wiki.

FRANCE: Banquet (Villeneuve); Garcia (UTC), Cassin (Toulouse), Dulac (St Gaudens), Sirvent (St Gaudens); Devecchi (Avignon), Rinaldi (Villeneuve); Hechiche (Lyon), Wulf (Villeneuve), Sands (Limoux), Guisset (UTC), Tallec (Halifax), Jampy (UTC). Substitutes used: Despin (Villeneuve), Carrasco (Villeneuve), Sort (Villeneuve), Teixido (Limoux).

NEW ZEALAND: Barnett (Sydney City); Jellick (North Queensland), Blackmore (Leeds), Talau (Canterbury), N Vagana (Auckland); H Paul (Bradford), R Paul (Bradford); Smith (St George-Illawarra), Swain (Melbourne), Pongia (Sydney City), Rua (Melbourne), Kearney (Melbourne), Swann (Auckland). Substitutes used: Cayless (Parramatta), J Vagana (Auckland), Wiki (Canberra), Carroll (Brisbane).

Referee: B Harrigan (Australia).

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