New Zealand clean-sweep France | Sunday Observer

New Zealand clean-sweep France

DUNEDIN AFP: Rieko Ioane scored a dazzling second-half hat-trick as New Zealand punished France 49-14 to complete a clean sweep of their three-Test series in Dunedin on Saturday.

There were 11 tries, seven for the All Blacks -- three to Ioane and two to Damian McKenzie -- and two for France as both sides relished the freedom to attack on a firm surface in the enclosed Dunedin stadium.

McKenzie converted all the All Blacks’ tries to finish with a match haul of 24 points, while Ioane took his try haul to 16 from 16 Tests.

It rounded off a torrid tour for France, who were dismembered 52-11 in the first Test and gallantly went down 26-13 in the second, following an early red card which was rescinded after the game.

Despite mass changes in the All Blacks team, quick feet and outrageous offloads produced a helter-skelter game in which France were competitive for the first half-hour when the scores were tied 14-14. But after McKenzie’s first try -- helped by referee John Lacey, who accidentally impeded Baptiste Serin -- the All Blacks led 21-14 at the turn, and France were unable to find a way back.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was vindicated in his decision to make 10 changes and blood four new Test players, with next year’s World Cup in mind.

His aim was to build depth and the match-day 23 included only six players who featured in the quarter-final win over France in the World Cup three years ago.