It's not often you'll find yourself saying the Black Ferns were outplayed, but against France in Toulon on Saturday morning the New Zealand side found themselves in unfamiliar territory.

The French pack put on a dominant display at set pieces and in defence, but the Black Ferns were able to overcome the challenge and claw their way to a 14-0 win.

Second half tries to Leilani Perese and Renee Wickliffe saw the Black Ferns walk away with a flattering margin in victory in a match they were, for the most part, working on the back foot.

"We had to fight really hard for that one," coach Glenn Moore said.

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"Once we got into the second half we made a few changes on what we were doing and we saw the tide turn a little bit."

France were up to the test of hosting the world champions and absorbed an early period of pressure before taking the match by the scruff of the neck.

Backed by their dominance at set pieces, which saw them awarded a number of scrum penalties and steal plenty of the Black Ferns' lineouts, France looked likely to be the first side on the board.

However, in the miserable conditions, handling proved to be an issue for both teams as possession was often coughed up in great attacking territory.

Locked in a scoreless stalemate at halftime, it appeared the match would come down to which team could see out the full 80 minutes to the best of their abilities. That wasn't the best measuring stick however as both sides were there until the end.

"We knew they'd be a physical team...we were aware of that and we were looking forward to the confrontation," said Moore.

It was the Black Ferns' ability to continue to apply pressure and remain composed through the strong French defence at the goalline to eventually crash over through Perese, who had just come onto the field.

It only took a few minutes for the New Zealand side to get over again, with Wickliffe the benefactor of some nice work through the hands to score in the corner.

While both sides had plenty off chances late in the piece to add to the scoreboard, neither were able to capitalise and the Black Ferns' two tries were all that was needed to secure the win.

Black Ferns 14 (Renee Wickliffe, Leilani Perese tries; Kendra Cocksedge 2 cons).
France 0