France hope to arrest slide

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France, the World Cup finalists last year, are desperate to avoid a run of three consecutive defeats against southern hemisphere nations when they take on New Zealand in the second Test at Stade Vélodrome, in Marseilles, today.

France, the World Cup finalists last year, are desperate to avoid a run of three consecutive defeats against southern hemisphere nations when they take on New Zealand in the second Test at Stade Vélodrome, in Marseilles, today.

The French lost 18-13 to their victors in that final, Australia, earlier this month and they were then defeated 39-26 by the All Blacks last weekend.

The defeats angered the French coach, Bernard Laporte. "The team has heart and enthusiasm but the guys have no tactical intelligence," he said.

"It's really serious. We don't do any thinking about the game. If French flair means rushing forward and dropping the ball, I'd rather play bowls."

The players have promised to be more careful for their last outing of a year which also saw them lose three matches in the Six Nations tournament.

"We have little choice but to win," said the hooker Fabrice Landreau. "It will be important for the team and for our future. We are in an uncomfortable position at the moment."

Laporte has made two changes, selecting Pieter de Villiers over Christian Califano at prop, while the wing Philippe Bernat-Salles comes in for the injured Thomas Lombard.

Jonah Lomu will miss the match because of a fractured cheekbone and he will be replaced by Bruce Reihana, who wins his first All Black cap.

FRANCE: X Garbajosa; P Bernat-Salles, R Dourthe, F Comba, D Bory; C Lamaison, F Galthié; S Marconnet, F Landreau, P de Villiers, C Moni, F Pelous (capt), D Auradou, O Magne, C Juillet. Replacements: O Azam, C Califano, O Brouzet, S Betsen, P Carbonneau, Y Delaigue, JL Sadourny.

NEW ZEALAND: C Cullen; D Howlett, T Umaga, D Gibson, B Reihana; A Mehrtens, J Marshall; G Feek, A Oliver, G Somerville, R Thorne, T Blackadder (capt), N Maxwell, S Robertson, R Cribb. Replacements: M Hammett, G Slater, T Flavell, T Randell, B Kelleher, C Spencer, P Alatini.

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