All Blacks fell short against host in first round

Sports writer Aiman Fariz Zaqwan Bin Akmal Hizam discusses Rugby World Cup.
This year’s Rugby World Cup kicked off with a feisty battle between the host country France, and three-time World Champion, New Zealand’s All Blacks. On paper, both teams appear evenly matched in the latest World Rugby men’s rankings, with France in third and New Zealand in fourth. France came in with a mission to repeat their 40-25 glory from the end-of-the-year test match against the All Blacks in the very same stadium of Stade de France in 2021, while New Zealand was looking to add another World Cup title to their name and reclaim their glory as the world’s best.

The raucous crowd was served with the All Blacks’ well-known war dance, Haka, before the match kicked off with New Zealand’s drop kick.

The first try of the match came just one minute in. Aaron Smith, the scrum half for the All Blacks, initiated a powerful charge on the right side of the field, only to be met by a swarm of French defenders. A successful ruck following the hit saw the ball being offloaded backward and finding its way to Beauden Barrett, who launched an ambitious cross-field kick. A showdown between the wingers on the left side of the pitch saw All Blacks’ Mark Telea arriving at the ball first and landing a try close to the sidelines to give New Zealand the first try of the tournament.
France, however, was quick to respond, earning a penalty just two minutes later. Thomas Ramos expertly converted the kick, narrowing the score gap to a mere two points. In the 17th minute, New Zealand’s Ethan de Groot found himself penalized for his role in a scrum that collapsed, granting France another penalty opportunity. Ramos, displaying impeccable accuracy, slotted in yet another penalty kick, allowing the French to seize a 6-5 lead. Eight minutes later, the All Blacks were granted a penalty of their own with Richie Mo’unga confidently converting the kick, adding three more points to New Zealand’s tally. However, in the 27th minute, de Groot was penalized once again for a similar offense, this time at the center of the field. Ramos capitalized on this opportunity once more, converting yet another penalty for France. New Zealand sought to reclaim their lead, but the French defense held firm. The first 40 minutes concluded with France holding a slim 9-8 advantage at halftime.

The second half started off with a drop kick from France, setting the stage for New Zealand to swiftly regain their momentum. A beautifully executed long pass from Rieko Ioane in the 42nd minute found Telea, whose pace left the French backlines in his wake. Telea secured his second try of the match, propelling New Zealand back into the lead with a score of 9-13.

A brilliant maneuver from Jalibert in the 54th minute lured New Zealand’s defense into marking him. He quickly passed the ball to release Dupont, who glided effortlessly into the All Blacks’ try zone. Ramos, the man in form, confidently converted France’s conversion, bolstering their lead to 16-13.
A foul against Jalibert in the 60th minute awarded France another penalty which Ramos expertly converted for his fifth successful kick of the night. A high tackle from the All Blacks in the 70th minute awarded France a penalty, once again converted by Ramos. With just three minutes left in the match, New Zealand lost possession as they lost a ruck following Barrett’s hit. Maxime Lucu of France wasted no time and sent a long kick that bounced off New Zealand’s try zone. Melvyn Jaminet seized the opportunity, leaping to catch the ball and rolling into the try zone, securing an additional five points for France.
The final whistle echoed through the roaring crowd of Stade de France as tournament host France upset New Zealand 27-13 for their Group A opener.

Another Group A match saw Italy cruising past Namibia in a fashionable 52-8 win. Meanwhile, current World No.1, Ireland, topped Group B following their 82-8 thrashing against Romania. Following them in second place is defending champion South Africa, who started their campaign with an 18-3 win against Scotland.

Group C saw Australia edging past Georgia by 35-15, while Wales upset a passionate Fiji squad by 32-26.
In Group D, previous host Japan showed levels to Chile following a 42-12 win, while England clinched a 27-10 against Argentina.

Post Author: Aiman Akmal Hizam