World champions New Zealand were often on the back foot but a clinical three-try performance helped them beat a wasteful France 24-19 in their final autumn Test at the Stade de France.
Flyhalf Beauden Barrett scored a try and kicked nine points, to add to Israel Dagg and Charlie Faumuina’s tries, ensuring that the All Blacks, who demolished Les Bleus 62-13 in last year’s World Cup, remained unbeaten in Paris since 1973.
All Blacks skipper Kieran Read praised his side’s improvement after coming into the Paris Test off a scrappy win over Ireland.
“Probably the difference between this week and last week is our discipline was a lot better so we didn’t have to keep defending and giving away penalties, so that was a positive,” Read said.
“It obviously meant we got the ball a bit more and it was certainly not perfect, but we’ll take it.”
Maxime Machenaud kicked two penalties while Baptiste Serin slotted two penalties and a conversion as France, who scored a try through Louis Picamoles, failed to make their first-half domination count on Saturday (Sunday AEDT).
A week after a narrow loss to Australia, France’s improvements under new coach Guy Noves bode well for next year’s Six Nations, starting with a tough trip to Twickenham to face Eddie Jones’s England.
New Zealand ended their season with 13 wins from 14 Tests, with their only loss against Ireland in Chicago.