Over the course of two weeks, after the Springboks' thrashing at Twickenham (35-7), what haven't we read or heard about the New Zealand national team? The worst generation in history will be promised a beating against the French Blues, at their stadium of the same name. Hot to white. The loss of their captain, Sam Kane, who was injured in training on Thursday and revealed it a few minutes before kick-off, could have destabilized the team.
Well, we had to wait a couple of minutes to realize that these speculations were just nonsense. Mark Tilia's effort, served up by Beauden Barrett's illuminating foot pass, highlighted part of the All Blacks' tactical plan: countering the French 'rush defence'. how? By targeting Damien Benaud's winger who, in the defensive phase, regularly moves away to reach second position and thus cut off outsiders.
Copy and paste when resumed
The first attempt of the match had already been taken (the fastest in a World Cup opener), and then debutant Bordelli was beaten to a jumping pass, still targeting the troubled Tilia. Penaud overwhelmed the three-quarter line in pain with every opponent's ball, and the French boat swayed slightly in the first period. As soon as they return from the dressing room, Ian Foster's men activate the copy and paste function. A brilliant jump pass from center Ioane passed three of his teammates into the arms of Tilia, and was thrown back behind Damian's back, very sheepishly.
Fortunately, the French Revolution allowed the winger to show his talent and strength of character. Above all, it allowed the French XV to finally give up on the horses, but without that, the All Blacks' diabolical plan would have hastened the Blues' downfall.