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All Blacks salvage some pride

Last updated on: 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 of New ZealandDoug 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.

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Although there were some fine tries, the match was littered with errors from both teams as players too often tried to push the final pass and the defence lacked any real power.

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.

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But the All Blacks, who were knocked out of this year's tournament by Australia 22-10 last weekend, quickly reasserted their control, scoring three tries in seven minutes to run away with the match.

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.

Teams:
New Zealand -- 15 Mils Muliaina; 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Leon MacDonald (21 Daniel Carter, 18th) (22 Caleb Ralph, 76th), 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Joe Rokocoko; 10 Carlos Spencer, 9 Steve Devine; 8 Jerry Collins (19 Marty Holah, 43rd), 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Reuben Thorne (c), 5 Ali Williams (18 Brad Thorn, 47th), 4 Chris Jack, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Keven Mealamu (16 Mark Hammett, 70th), 1 Dave Hewett (17 Carl Hoeft, 67th)
France -- 15 Clement Poitrenaud (22 Nicolas Brusque, 27th); 14 Pepito Elhorga, 13 Tony Marsh (21 Brian Liebenberg, 40th), 12 Damien Traille, 11 David Bory; 10 Gerald Merceron (20 Frederic Michalak, 63rd), 9 Dimitri Yachvili; 8 Christian Labit, 7 Patrick Tabacco (19 Olivier Magne, 55th), 6 Sebastien Chabal, 5 Thibault Privat (18 Fabien Pelous, 40th), 4 David Auradou, 3 Jean-Baptiste Poux (17 Jean-Jacques Crenca, 40th), 2 Yannick Bru (c) (16 Raphael Ibanez, 53rd), 1 Sylvain Marconnet
Referee: Chris White (England)

Julian Linden in Sydney
Source:
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