McKenzie a revelation as rampant All Blacks run away from France

Damian McKenzie scores with the support of halfback Aaron Smith while French halfback Baptiste...
Damian McKenzie scores with the support of halfback Aaron Smith while French halfback Baptiste Serin protests to Irish referee John Lacey. Photos: Peter McIntosh
All Black No 8 Luke Whitelock eyes the ball in the tackle of French lock Yoann Maestri while...
All Black No 8 Luke Whitelock eyes the ball in the tackle of French lock Yoann Maestri while replacement halfback Baptiste Serin looks on.
All Black winger Rieko Ioane scores against France at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night.
All Black winger Rieko Ioane scores against France at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night.

For first time out, Damian McKenzie got more than a pass mark.

McKenzie made his starting debut at first five-eighth for the All Blacks on Saturday night against the French.

There was interest in how he would go and whether he had the temperament to play there.

Well, he showed with 24 points, including two tries and not missing a kick at goal that he is ready and capable of taking on the jersey should Beauden Barrett fall over.

McKenzie said it was different starting.

"Early on we were under a bit of pressure for long periods of time and once we managed to hang on to the ball and got some phases going we scored some pretty good tries. It was a special night," he said.

"Once we had the ball it was about playing our game and playing at our pace. When they scored their tries we would score a try of our own.

"The game started opening up a little bit. That is the beauty of playing under the roof. You get a dry ball and you can just play."

His tries came off some nice lines and he did not think he had deliberately used the referee to score his try in the first half.

That try, nine minutes from halftime, put the All Blacks ahead 21-14 and was contentious but was just a sideline as the home side pulled away in the second half.

McKenzie said he had improved from the second test, where he came on early and gave a skittish display.

"I think it was a lot more controlled. I didn’t panic and was just doing the obvious. I just kept playing and playing at the right end of the field. The guys around me showing me where the space is  helps make my job a whole lot easier."

McKenzie started by throwing an intercept pass but he is a player who gets over things quickly and his team-mates helped that.

He said he would love to play every game under the roof. On Saturday, the All Blacks pulled away after a tight first half.

The French came out firing and dominated possession in the first 10 minutes with a try to halfback Baptiste Serin, who came on at halfback for a concussed Morgan Parra.

France was well in the game in the first half and kept hold of the ball well — it had possession nearly two to one in the first half.

But it could not score and the All Blacks got on a roll in the second half and ran away with the game.

The always dangerous Rieko Ioane helped himself to a hat-trick and had a spell at centre, where his future — not necessarily any time soon — lies.

Scott Barrett and Luke Whitelock were good up front while Codie Taylor played well as he continues to grow.

 

All Blacks v France
The scores

All Blacks    49

Rieko Ioane 3, Damian McKenzie 2, Ben Smith, Matt Todd tries; McKenzie 7 con

France    14

Baptiste Serin, Wesley Fofana tries; Anthony Belleau 2 con

Halftime: 21-14 All Blacks
Crowd: 27,807

Add a Comment