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France 27-13 New Zealand: Damian Penaud strikes as France come from behind to claim opening Rugby World Cup win vs New Zealand

France scored through Damian Penaud, Melvyn Jaminet tries, five Thomas Ramos penalties, as they came from 5-0 and 13-9 behind to beat New Zealand at Stade de France in Rugby World Cup 2023 opener; Mark Telea scored twice for All Blacks, including fastest RWC opening try on 91 seconds

Image: Damian Penaud scored a crucial second half try, as France fought back to beat the All Blacks on the World Cup's opening night

A Damian Penaud try proved crucial as hosts France came from behind to claim an opening 27-13 Rugby World Cup victory over New Zealand in stifling Paris heat at the Stade de France.

Temperatures breached 30 degrees pre kick-off for the night game on Friday, but the All Blacks flew out of the blocks to notch the fastest Rugby World Cup opening try in history after just 91 seconds through wing Mark Telea.

The boot of France full-back Thomas Ramos edged France back in front by the break, with both sides guilty of errors, before Telea grabbed his second try off a stunning Rieko Ioane long pass.

France 27-13 New Zealand - Score summary

France - Tries: Penaud (55), Jaminet (78). Cons: Ramos (57). Pens: Ramos (5, 20, 29, 65, 74).

New Zealand - Tries: Telea (2, 43). Pens: Mo'unga (26).

France responded superbly, however, with Penaud flying over in the corner for the critical score after a wealth of Les Bleus pressure - a point from which Fabien Galthie's side and a huge vocal support did not look back, with replacement back Melvyn Jaminet adding a second try late on to rubberstamp victory.

Opening ceremony
Image: France put on a show in the opening ceremony of the 2023 Rugby World Cup at Stade de France
Rugby World Cup 2023

Team News

Yoram Moefana started at centre for France in the injury-enforced absence of Jonathan Danty, while Matthieu Jalibert began at fly-half, with Romain Ntamack missing the tournament due to an ACL suffered last month. Thomas Ramos claimed the full-back shirt over Melvyn Jaminet.

New Zealand lost skipper Sam Cane to a late injury withdrawal, prompting Tupou Vaa'i to start out of position at blindside flanker, with Dalton Papalii moving to openside, and Ardie Savea taking the captaincy. Scott Barrett started a fortnight on from his red card vs South Africa.

Though there will be huge disappointment in the New Zealand camp, particularly with the way in which they were outplayed after Telea's second try, they made an astonishing start to the contest: Ioane scything through for great metreage, and Beauden Barrett producing an exquisite kick-pass which bounced perfectly for Telea to ground less than two minutes in.

Image: Wing Mark Telea crossed for New Zealand's opening try in the contest after just 91 seconds - a RWC record
Ioane, Telea
Image: Rieko Ioane, whose initial run set up the platform for New Zealand's opener, celerbates with Telea

France responded quickly, with hooker Julien Marchand forcing a penalty at the breakdown by the All Blacks 22 following the restart, allowing Ramos to kick them onto the board straightaway.

With the contest at fever pitch from the off and in sapping conditions, it was perhaps unsurprisingly that errors flowed. Both sides turned over possession frequently, while Richie Mo'unga and Matthieu Jalibert both missed touch with penalty kicks from hand, prior to Ramos striking France into a one-point lead after a scrum penalty.

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Image: France full-back Thomas Ramos put them onto the scoreboard in the fifth minute

A Ramos knock-on under no pressure by his 22 brought the All Blacks back onto the attack, but lock Scott Barrett spilled the ball as he dipped to score from close-range after 11 phases with the visitors on advantage from an offside penalty - which they returned to, to take an 8-6 lead courtesy of the boot of Mo'unga.

Image: Richie Mo'unga kicked New Zealand back into a first half lead via a penalty

Just shy of the half-hour mark, Ramos drilled over a superb penalty from halfway after another France scrum penalty - this time against the head - leaving the hosts a point ahead at the break, after the All Blacks failed to take advantage of two promising situations in the 22: loosehead Ethan de Groot first knocking on, before hooker Codie Taylor later passed straight off the park.

Les Bleus began like an express train at the beginning of the second period, winning the the restart back through Charles Ollivon and breaking into the 22 through Gregory Alldritt and Antoine Dupont, with the crowd responding in kind, but their momentum was halted when blindside flanker Francois Cros was penalised for side-entry.

Ultimately, New Zealand scored the first points of the half again, as Telea was on hand to finish in the left corner after Ioane ripped out a wonderful long pass to him, which though France appealed as forward, was a superb piece of execution.

Image: Telea raced in for his second try at the start of the second half

Like with Telea's first try, Mo'unga missed the difficult touchline conversion, leaving New Zealand four points up at 13-9, but the final half hour or so belonged almost totally to France.

Fuelled by a combination of misplaced injustice, incredible home support and sheer desperation, France forced themselves into scoring positions again and again, as the All Blacks held on through a crucial Sam Whitelock breakdown penalty win deep in their own 22, and then a remarkable try-saving Mo'unga tackle on Penaud in the corner.

On 55 minutes, the New Zealand dam burst, however, as France decided to kick to the corner with a penalty for the first time in the match, and after a chaotic spell of frenzied attack near the try-line, Jalibert scooted to suck in three players and shipped wide for Penaud to collect, sprint forward and dive over.

Image: Penaud's try came after a period of France dominance at 13-9 behind

Unlike Mo'unga, Ramos nailed his touchline conversion to push the France lead from one point out to three, and within two minutes, New Zealand were down to 14 players, as the electric Will Jordan - near anonymous in this Test - was sin-binned for taking Ramos out in the air.

Ramos missed a penalty from out wide on the hour mark, after a roaring French maul had been torn down from the side, but he would stretch the advantage to six points five minutes later, punishing lazy New Zealand rollers at a ruck.

Image: Ramos struck well off the tee for France throughout the Test, making sure of victory

With six minutes to go, Ramos made sure of victory when he struck over a penalty from distance, with Jaminet adding gloss to the score-line in the final stages by collecting a Maxime Lucu chip kick into space behind New Zealand's defence, which took a cruel bounce up and over Mo'unga, and enabled him to land over the try-line to an enormous reception.

For Dupont, Galthie and co, it's a case of first job done.

Image: France replacement back Melvyn Jaminet got over for a further try at the end
Image: France skipper and playmaker Antoine Dupont wasn't at his best, but his side did enough

Foster: We didn't fire enough shots; We have to rebuild | Galthie: We felt pressure; It's a relief

New Zealand head coach Ian Foster said post-match...

"Stats are stats and I understand all that, but in the past we've won all the pool games but not necessarily won the tournament, the goal is to win a tournament.

"We were just denied opportunities to really attack them in their half. There are some aspects we're going to have to rebuild a bit. We need to be a bit better. Some good lessons.

"But we're not down in the sheds, we're just frustrated that we lost a game. We fired some good bullets at them, we just didn't fire enough."

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster watches his team warm-up
Image: Ian Foster oversaw a first All Blacks Rugby World Cup pool stage defeat in their history

France head coach Galthie said post-match...

"It was important to begin well by winning even if it was not a knockout match. We felt a lot of pressure in the first half and found it tough to relax and express ourselves.

"The start was terrible for us as they scored quickly, then we lost (Julien) Marchand injured, but we succeeded little by little to get back into it and Ramos helped us to keep the score ticking over.

"We were leading at half-time, but we were not in control of the game. I said we had been overcome a bit by the pressure, but the good thing was we managed to get back into it.

"It will do us the world of good, this win. It is a relief and welcome."

What's next?

France next host Uruguay on Thursday September 14, in their second Rugby World Cup Pool A clash, at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille.

Rugby World Cup, opening ceremony

The All Blacks face Namibia next on Friday September 15, in their second Rugby World Cup Pool A clash, at Stadium de Toulouse.

England and Ireland kick-off their World Cup campaigns on Saturday, as Ireland face Romania in Bordeaux (2.30pm kick off BST), and England meet Argentina in Marseille (8pm kick off BST).

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