Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Hansen praises All Blacks' resilience

France's Brice Dulin is tackled by New Zealand's All Blacks players during their international rugby match at the Stade de France stadium in Saint Denis. Photo / AP
France's Brice Dulin is tackled by New Zealand's All Blacks players during their international rugby match at the Stade de France stadium in Saint Denis. Photo / AP

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has praised his team's resilience in holding out a fast-finishing France at the Stade de France this morning.

Having weathered a tense start to the match, his side appeared to have the victory in the bag after surging ahead through tries by Charles Piutau and Kieran Read, only for the Tricolours to fight back through fullback Brice Dulin.

Roared on by an 80,000-strong crowd, the French had a series of scrums on the All Blacks' line in the dying minutes but couldn't translate their dominance in the set piece to points.

In the end, the home side conceded a penalty, which the All Blacks kicked out to receive a welcome final whistle. They now head to England with their winning record this year still intact.

"They had to show some real resilience, composure, patience and at times deal with their frustrations and I thought they did that really well,'' Hansen said.

"The French turned up to play and did that really well and tonight's the night when you understand why they call it a test match, because it's a test of your resolve and mental strength, your skill sets right across the board. We had to take the win, we weren't given it, we had to fight hard for it and it's really pleasing to see they did that.''

Piutau provided the inspiration with a try and assist for No8 Read. His performance, plus that mental strength to fight it out to the end, were the highlights for the All Blacks, who struggled again at scrum time and missed too many first-up tackles.

Dan Carter kicked for goal well but had a quiet overall game before being replaced by Aaron Cruden. Cory Jane enjoyed a successful comeback from his knee injury by contributing well, including almost scoring a try in the corner in the opening minutes.

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre said the All Blacks' ability to capitalise on scoring chances marked them out as rare beasts.

"Since the World Cup I think they've played 31 games, won 29, drew one, lost one, so that must be the best record in the history of rugby. I think today we showed a lot of character, we showed everything, but they are very clever. They are very intelligent. We were six, maybe 10 times very close to the line, maybe four or five metres, and then they have two opportunities and they score two tries. We must congratulate them and work hard to be better and a bit more clever.''

- APNZ

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