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Sunday, 12 November, 2000, 11:57 GMT
Mehrtens seals All Blacks victory
New Zealand's Ron Cribb
New Zealand's Ron Cribb is tackled by Olivier Magne
France 26-39 New Zealand

New Zealand fly-half Andrew Mehrtens became the fastest man to reach 700 Test points as the All Blacks recorded a comfortable victory at the Stade de France in Paris.

The result was sweet revenge for the visitors, who suffered a shock defeat at the hands of the French in the World Cup semi-final - a match that is rated by many experts as the greatest rugby union contest of all-time.

Following another impressive all-round display, Mehrtens' own individual haul moved on to 702 points from 46 Tests.

  France scorers
Tries: Bernat-Salles, Pelous
Conversions: Lamaison (two)
Penalties: Lamaison (four)
It means he has passed the 700-point landmark in eight internationals fewer than the previous record-holder, Michael Lynagh of Australia.

The dominant fly-half kicked 29 of New Zealand's points as his side avenged their World Cup upset.

  New Zealand scorers
Tries: Howlett, Cullen
Conversion: Mehrtens
Penalties: Mehrtens (nine)
On that day France were victorious 43-31 but despite seven players from on each side still figuring in this repeat fixture, that success was never likely to be repeated on Saturday night.

The visitors' other points came through tries from Doug Howlett and Christian Cullen, while the home fans were at least treated to late efforts from Philippe Bernat-Salles and Fabien Pelous.

Kiwi wing Jonah Lomu tackles Christophe Juillet of France
Kiwi wing Jonah Lomu tackles Christophe Juillet of France
All Blacks captain Todd Blackadder said."I'm quite pleased with the forwards. We took good decisions and we improved in defence.

"But everything wasn't perfect. In the last 20 minutes their drives were very good and they managed to come back in the game."

The second and final Test between the two nations is in Marseille next Saturday.

France will be desperate not to slump to their third defeat in a row following Australia's narrow win in Paris the week before the All Black triumph.


It was a very tough and physical game like we expected
  All Blacks coach Wayne Smith
And they know they will have to tighten up if they are to prevent another Southern Hemisphere success in their own back yard.

"We exposed ourselves to counter-attacks and when you are down 26-12 it's difficult to come back", said coach French coach Bernard Laporte.

"We gave them the stick to beat us", French skipper Alain Pelous added.

"We lost the game on these kind of little mistakes. We lost too many balls in the line out and we gave them back too many balls."


Teams:

New Zealand: Christian Cullen; Doug Howlett, Tana Umaga, Daryl Gibson, Jonah Lomu; Andrew Mehrtens, Justin Marshall (v-capt); Ron Cribb, Scott Robertson, Reuben Thorne; Norm Maxwell, Todd Blackadder (capt); Greg Somerville, Anton Oliver, Greg Feek

Replacements (used): Troy Flavell, Carlos Spencer, Gordon Slater; (not used): Mark Hammett, Taine Randell, Byron Kelleher, Bruce Reihana

France: Xavier Garbajosa; Thomas Lombard, Richard Dourthe, Franck Comba, David Bory; Christophe Lamaison, Fabien Galthie; Christophe Juillet, Olivier Magne, Christophe Moni; Fabien Pelous (capt), David Auradou; Christian Califano, Fabrice Landreau, Sylvain Marconnet

Replacements (used): Philippe Bernat-Salles, Pieter De Villiers, Serge Betsen, Olivier Brouzet; (not used): Olivier Azam, Philippe Carbonneau, Yann Delaigue

Referee: Wayne Erickson (Aus)

Attendance: 78,000

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