New Zealand 26-13 France: Benjamin Fall's early red card shapes second Test
Last Updated: 16/06/18 1:17pm
A red card to France full-back Benjamin Fall after just 12 minutes effectively ended the game as a contest as New Zealand went on to beat Les Blues 26-13 in their second summer Test on Saturday.
The victory sees the All Blacks wrap up the Test series against France a week early in Wellington, having also won the first Test at Eden Park last week.
France had started brightly and took the lead through the boot of Morgan Parra but Fall was then sent from the field for taking Beauden Barrett out in the air - the All Black out-half hitting his head on the ground and failing his consequent HIA.
Prop Joe Moody, wing Ben Smith and full-back Jordie Barrett all got over for tries in the first half, while Barrett scored again in the second half - though his score was the only points in a largely sub-par All Blacks showing.
Cedate Gomes Sa grabbed a deserved consolation for France in the final minute, and Jacques Brunel will now have to lift his troops ahead of their third Test against New Zealand in Dunedin next Saturday, live on Sky Sports.
Prior to the red card, the visitors had dominated the opening exchanges, with out-half Anthony Belleau and the loose forward trio of Kevin Gourdon, Kelian Galletier and Mathieu Babillot punching holes in the All Blacks' defence.
One of Galletier's penetrating runs created space for Geoffrey Doumayrou to cross the line only for television replays to show he had dropped the ball while trying to score.
Parra gave France the lead with an 11th-minute penalty then the game effectively ended after Fall was sent off while chasing a high kick from the restart.
The world champions, who typically do not need a numerical advantage to run up points, however, struggled to take control of the game with poor individual execution and sloppy teamwork in the face of a galvanised French side.
The All Blacks' managed to score tries through prop Moody, Smith and then Barrett, whose first five-pointer only came from a sweeping counter-attack in the final minute of the first spell to give them a 21-6 lead.
Clearly disappointed with his starting side's performance in the first half, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen went to his replacements bench early in the second spell, but the game still struggled to get any momentum.
Damian McKenzie, who had replaced Barrett, finally sparked the game back into life when he put the younger Barrett in for his second try.
France, however, continued to dominate territory and possession and Gardner finally lost patience with the All Blacks persistent infringing, with replacement scrumhalf TJ Perenara sin-binned for conceding the latest penalty.
It looked like France might have finally got some luck when replacement hooker Pierre Bougarit crossed to score what looked to be a try on test debut but Ayoub ruled it out for a double movement.
For the visitors, replacement prop Gomes Sa finished off a sweeping movement in dead time.