All Blacks beaten on their own turf

New Zealand 22 France 27
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The Independent Online

New Zealand will face an uphill battle to level the Test series against France in Wellington on Saturday after the visitors produced an outstanding defensive performance in the first match here.

France prevailed after driving the All Blacks backwards and disrupting the flow of their attack. It was their fourth win in 21 Tests in New Zealand.

"Our scrum struggled and we didn't have a platform," said the All Blacks coach, Graham Henry. "We got knocked over behind the advantage line a lot and tried to attack from there."

The All Blacks were trailing 17-3 after 30 minutes before a Stephen Donald penalty and Liam Messam try in the final minutes of the half brought the home side back into the match. Two further Donald penalties in the second half tied the game at 17-17 before the match turned sour for the All Blacks.

France's Julien Dupuy slotted his second penalty and full-back Maxime Médard intercepted a pass to put the result beyond doubt. "Experience is a big thing when you go into Test matches," said the All Blacks forwards coach Steve Hansen. "We have a number of guys who hadn't experienced that intensity and got caught out."

Scorers: New Zealand: Tries Messam, Nonu; Pens Donald 4. France: Tries Trinh-Duc, Servat, Medard; Cons Dupuy 3;

Pens Dupuy 2.

New Zealand: M Muliaina (capt); J Rokocoko, I Toeava (L McAlister, 59), M Nonu, C Jane; S Donald, J Cowan (P Weepu, 50); T Woodcock, A Hore (K Mealamu, 19), N Tialata (J Afoa, 62), B Thorn, I Ross (N Evans, 71), K Read, A Thomson (T Latimer, 62), L Messam.

France: M Médard; C Heymans, M Bastareaud, D Traille, V Clerc; F Trinh-Duc, J Dupuy (D Yachvili, 73); F Barcella, W Servat (D Szarzewski, 50), S Marconnet, P Pape (S Chabal, 52), R Millo-Chluski, T Dusautoir (capt), F Ouedraogo, L Picamoles.

Referee: G Clancy (Ireland).