All Blacks thump France 30-0 in 500th test
The All Blacks celebrated their 500th test with a thumping 30-0 win over old rivals France, which secured victory in their three-game series yesterday.
An astute kicking game laid the groundwork as the All Blacks powered home after an early try to Julian Savea and two crowd-pleasing scores from Ben Smith and Beauden Barrett.
New Zealand's 378th victory in 500 internationals, which makes them one of the most successful teams in all sports, follows last week's 23-13 win in Auckland and gives them an unassailable 2-0 lead with a game to spare.
"I'm extremely happy," said All Blacks captain Kieran Read. "The effort we put in in defence really showed the character we have. It's not easy on a [wet] night like this and the boys really stepped up."
The home team led 10-0 at half-time and added 20 points in the second period, while France, who ran New Zealand close last week, finished scoreless against them for the first time.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't score any points tonight. They played very well with great defence," said French skipper Thierry Dusautoir. "We're hoping to do the maximum to fight back to win that one test. There's one test left, so we're going to do the maximum to win."
The renowned flair of the French made them a threat when they had an opportunity to run with the ball, but their opportunities were few as they were continually forced into a defensive game by an All Blacks aerial bombardment.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had demanded an improvement on the stumbling first test win in Auckland a week ago, and the team took notice.
Before a capacity crowd of 21,000 people who braved chilly, wet conditions, they were a far more settled unit the second time around against their 2011 World Cup final opponents.
Read and Liam Messam led an effective nullifying of the French strength at the breakdown, and the scrum held its own despite the addition of Nicolas Mas into the French front row.
But it was the kicking game, so wayward a week ago, that produced the result as France were kept pinned in their own half.