All Blacks 38 France 18
Just as they did last year, the All Blacks managed to cling on to victory in Paris in the most unconvincing manner.
It was utterly peculiar that they ended up having to scramble the way they did given that they had the game well under control at halftime.
It was virtually in the bag and then, out of nowhere, the French erupted, played all the rugby, looked a million dollars and barely allowed the All Blacks to touch the ball in the second half.
If the All Blacks made it into French territory after halftime it was only just and not for long. They spent 40 minutes defending, conceding penalties, dropping the ball and looking about as vulnerable as they have any time in the last decade.
Rarely have they been so outplayed for such a long period and still managed to win.
Rarely have they chased their tails the way they did, unable to do anything legal to stop France's momentum.
It was astonishing not just for what it was, but also because it was in stark contrast to the first half.
Just as France were unrecognisable from the first half, so too were the All Blacks. They came out with a calm authority to take a grip on the game early, attack hard and often and subdue the French before they had any ideas about settling into things.
There wasn't a hint of fatigue anywhere within the All Blacks. The gas tank was most definitely full. It was the All Blacks who had all the running in their legs, all the sharp movements, all the urgency.
And there is no surer sign of a team feeling alive and energised than their ability to finish moves. Tired teams are rarely clinical. They don't have the awareness to see the space quickly enough or the precision in their execution.
The All Blacks weren't perfect in their finishing, but they didn't squander many opportunities and to hit the break with four tries posted and 31 points in the bag was certainly an A, if not an A-plus sort of effort.
And what particularly impressed about their attacking game was the composure and almost relaxed nature of it all.
To a man, they took their time on the ball to assess what was on and mostly make the right decision. Beauden Barrett never seemed to be in a hurry.
He was happy to pick his runner carefully. The first try was created by Barrett holding on for long enough to allow Dane Coles a gap to storm through. The second was down to Barrett's awareness and calm to see the rushing French defence and then beautifully fire a long pass high and wide to Waisake Naholo who literally doddled over in acres of space.
That calm proved to be infectious as just before halftime Sonny Bill Williams had every French defenders and his dog coming at him and he dropped the ball on to his toe and nudged it perfectly for Ryan Crotty to score.
It was the perfect option, perfectly executed and unlike the shoulder charging or punching the ball dead, a welcome skill that Williams has taken with him from league.
And then of course the importance of that accuracy became apparent in the first quarter of the second half when the French, as they are prone to do, suddenly came to life and got their offloading working.
It was a little reminiscent of the 1999 World Cup semifinal - New Zealand in control at halftime and then 10 minutes later, unsure what exactly had just hit them.
France scored 13 quick points after the break, brought the crowd into the game and set a little panic racing through the All Blacks.
Quite a lot of panic and New Zealand's transformation from being in control to shell-shocked was as dramatic as France's was in the opposite direction.
If Teddy Thomas' foot had been an inch to his left, France could have come within six points of the lead with 20 minutes left and the All Blacks not sure if it was Samedi or Dimanche.
And so, just like their visit to the Stade de France last year, they were more than a little relieved to hear the final whistle.
France 18 (T. Thomas, Penalty tries; A. Belleau 2 pens)
New Zealand 38 (D. Coles, W. Naholo (2), R. Crotty, S. Cane tries; B. Barrett 4 cons, pen)
* Gregor Paul travelled to Paris courtesy of Air New Zealand.