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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 June, 2003, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
All Blacks edge France
New Zealand 31-23 France

All Blacks wing Joe Rokocoko scores his third try against France
Rokocoko confirmed his finishing ability
Teenage wing Joe Rokocoko scored a hat-trick of tries as New Zealand condemned France to a third successive Test defeat in Christchurch.

The 19-year-old - who scored twice in last week's drubbing of Wales - grabbed his treble in 13 first-half minutes to bolster his reputation as the 'new Jonah Lomu'.

Centre Daniel Carter added 16 points with the boot in the All Blacks' final warm-up before the Tri-Nations series.

But France made them sweat for the victory, prop Sylvain Marconnet and centre Yannick Jauzion crossing for tries in each half.

After two defeats in Argentina, it was a spirited display from a side missing several key forwards as they build towards the World Cup.

Scoreboard
New Zealand 31 (19):
Tries: Rokocoko 3
Cons: Carter 2
Pens: Carter 4
France 23 (13):
Tries: Marconnet, Jauzion
Cons: Michalak, Merceron
Pens: Michalak, Traille
Drop: Michalak
They started brightly, stand-off Frederic Michalak - brought in for the injured Yann Delaigue - rewarding early French pressure with a smartly struck drop goal.

The tourists lost debutant prop Nicolas Mas to injury after only 10 minutes, signalling a return to the front row for Pieter De Villiers.

But New Zealand took charge with three tries in 13 minutes, all falling to Rokocoko.

The first, after 14 minutes, was created by a pick-up and charge from number eight Jerry Collins, before Carlos Spencer's overhead pass put the wing over.

The stand-off also created the second seven minutes later, his inside pass splitting the French defence to send Rokocoko on a surging 50m run to the line.

Carter converted both scores for a 14-3 lead, and the inside centre's sidestepping break was the platform for the third try.

Fredric Michalak launches a high kick for France
Michalak was at the heart of the French comeback
After being held up on the French line, quick ball moved left saw Tana Umaga and Mils Muliaina combine to send Rokocoko in at the left corner - his fifth try in two Tests.

Carter missed the conversion, and Michalak stemmed the tide with a penalty for the visitors on the half-hour.

He then conjured up a try to reduce the deficit to only six points at half-time.

Taking the ball flat, a clever switch inside and pass to Marconnet sent the prop powering over at the posts.

Michalak converted for good measure to make it 19-13, only for France to lose their a second forward before the break when the impressive Imanol Harinordoquy was forced off.

New Zealand should have had a fourth try on the resumption when Doug Howlett's scoring pass to Steve Devine was adjudged forward, after Chris Jack's bullocking run.

French fightback

Carter and Damien Traille, with an attempt from half-way, then both missed penalty attempts for either side.

But the New Zealander found his range again with two successful attempts in the third quarter to stretch the home side's lead to 28-13.

With the game petering out, All Blacks skipper Reuben Thorne was sin-binned for aiming a punch at Christian Labit with 10 minutes remaining.

France immediately took advantage from the subsequent scrum when replacement fly-half Gerald Merceron sent Jauzion over, and converted to make it 28-20.

Traille banged over a long-range penalty with three minutes left before Carter, with the last kick of the match, eased Kiwi nerves with his fourth penalty.


New Zealand: Muliaina; Howlett, Umaga, Carter, Rokocoko; Spencer, Devine; Hewett, Oliver, Somerville, Jack, Williams, Thorne, McCaw, Collins.
Replacements: Mealamu, Meeuws, Thorn, Holah, Kelleher, Mauger, Ralph.

France: Poitrenaud; Rougerie, Jauzion, Traille, Clerc; Michalak, Galthie; Marconnet, Bru, Mas, Nallet, Thion, Harinordoquy, Tabacco, Vermeulen.
Replacements: Rue, De Villiers, Auradou, Chabal, Labit, Merceron, Elhorga.

Referee: Andre Watson (South Africa)


SEE ALSO
McCaw back to face French
24 Jun 03  |  Internationals
Dominici blow for France
25 Jun 03  |  Internationals
Lomu eyes August return
22 Jun 03  |  Internationals
Thorne praises rookies
21 Jun 03  |  Internationals
Merciless All Blacks crush Wales
21 Jun 03  |  Internationals
England down All Blacks
14 Jun 03  |  Internationals


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