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Medard intercept try stuns All Blacks

FULLBACK Maxime Medard scored a late intercept try to help France to a 27-22 victory against New Zealand at Carisbrook in Dunedin yesterday.

Medard stepped up to grab Luke McAlister's pass during an All Blacks attack and ran 60 meters untouched to give his side a 10-point margin with nine minutes remaining.

While New Zealand center Ma'a Nonu scored with less than five minutes left to bring the hosts within five points, the French held on to ensure the All Blacks could not snatch a late comeback win.

"That intercept try killed us, but we were the second-best side out there today and we did not deserve to win," All Blacks coach Graham Henry told reporters.

France's fourth victory in 21 tests against the All Blacks on New Zealand soil was based on an outstanding defensive effort. The French constantly snuffed out attacks, targeted the ball at the breakdown with multiple defenders, won the contacts and drove the All Blacks backwards.

Medard's try was a product of the pressure they had created with their defense as the All Blacks' tried increasingly audacious backline moves to try and create gaps in the French line.

"We have to congratulate the French; they played exceptionally well," Henry added. "They were more physical than us in the early parts of the game and after 30 minutes it didn't look too good."

The All Blacks, as has become traditional in their opening tests of the season, began slowly and Julien Dupuy and Stephen Donald traded early penalties.

France flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc then broke through four tacklers down the blindside from an attacking scrum to score the opening try, which Dupuy converted.

France's second try came from another All Blacks error when Liam Messam missed a tackle on Louis Picamoles while chasing his own kick, and the French quickly moved the ball to the opposite wing.

Although Donald and Nonu produced two desperate cover tackles, the French had enough numbers and hooker William Servat barrelled over close to a ruck. Dupuy's conversion gave the visitors an impressive 17-3 lead.

Donald reduced the deficit with his second penalty with less than three minutes remaining in the first half but New Zealand was not done yet.

Scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan received the ball from the restart and chipped ahead. Winger Cory Jane gathered it up and ran 40 meters before feeding Messam who touched down after the halftime hooter had sounded.

Donald added two penalties to tie the score at 17-17 before Dupuy added his second penalty and Medard's late try put the result beyond doubt.


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