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All Blacks salvage some pride
Julian Linden in Sydney | November 20, 2003 16:37 IST
Last Updated: November 21, 2003 11:43 IST
New Zealand gained some consolation for their loss to France in the rugby World Cup 1999 semi-finals by crushing the Europeans 40-13 in Thursday's playoff for the third place.
The All Blacks ran in six tries to one to overwhelm the French in a flat match that lacked any real intensity after the two sides were beaten in last weekend's semi-finals against Australia and England, respectively.
Doug Howlett and Malili 'Mils' Muliaina scored a try each to finish the tournament with seven apiece, just one short of compatriot Jonah Lomu's record of eight touchdowns in 1999.
Joe Rokocoko also scored to take his tally for the tournament to six while Chris Jack, Brad Thorn and Marty Holah all crossed for tries.
Right winger Pepito Elhorga scored France's lone try while scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili kicked a conversion, a penalty and a drop goal.
As with the playoffs in the four previous World Cups, both teams tried to throw the ball around, but there was no real purpose or conviction to their game.
Lock Jack opened the scoring when he crossed in the twelfth minute after finishing off a break started by Howlett. The Auckland winger himself scored eight minutes later after Mils Muliaina split the defence.
Yachvili landed an early penalty, then snapped a drop goal just before the break to send his team to the interval trailing 14-6.
France, who upset New Zealand 43-31 in the 1999 semi-finals after having trailed for most of that game, briefly threatened a repeat performance when Elhorga combined with fellow winger David Bory to score under the posts shortly after the restart and pull Les Bleus back to within a point.
Left wing Rokocoko picked up his sixth try of the tournament when he outsprinted the defence. Then, replacement lock Thorn strolled over with possibly the easiest try of his career as Howlett caught the French napping with a quick and controversial lineout that some commentators felt had not been thrown five metres as required.
Muliaina finished off a sweeping backline move to score his seventh try of the tournament and replacement flanker Holah crashed over from a rolling maul seven minutes from the end to complete the tally.