Auckland, New Zealand (AP) — Brothers Beauden, Jordie and Scott Barrett made history simply by taking the field for the All Blacks in their first of three tests against France on Saturday, with New Zealand running rampant in the second half to win 52-11.
Flyhalf Beauden, fullback Jordie and lock Scott were the first trio of brothers to be named in an All Blacks starting XV for a test match and made a large collective contribution as New Zealand extended its winning streak at Eden Park to 41 tests over 24 years. It last lost at the Auckland stadium to France in 1994.
The Barrett brothers’ headline moment came when all three handled in a first-half try to Beauden Barrett, which allowed New Zealand to counter an early try to France winger Remy Grosso. France took an 11-8 lead to halftime but was destroyed after the interval.
The Barretts surrendered the spotlight in the second half to an extraordinary ensemble performance by the All Blacks, who scored seven tries and 44 unanswered points. The headliners in the second half were: winger Rieko Ioane with two tries; hooker Codie Taylor, who scored a try and provided the last pass in two others; and replacement fullback Damian McKenzie, who scored a try and also created another for the bulldozing center Ngani Laumape.
Two of those tries came when France was reduced to 14 men by the sin-binning of lock Paul Gabrillagues for a high tackle on All Blacks center Ryan Crotty. The tackle appeared clearly legal, around the chest.
Gabrillagues left the field with the score locked at 11-11 and returned with New Zealand leading 25-11.
“We were behind on the scoreboard but, as soon as we drew even, the boys really picked up again,” All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock said.
The other key to the magnitude of the victory was New Zealand’s ability to steadily increase the pace of the match in the second half.
France was fully competitive through the first half, stunning New Zealand with Grosso’s try in the seventh minute. New Zealand was surprised by the ferocity of France’s rush defense, and efforts to speed up the game often led to errors which relieved pressure on France.
But there was a sublime moment for the All Blacks in the 21st when the Barrett brothers combined to create New Zealand’s first try. Scott handed off a short pass to Jordie in midfield and, after the involvement of Crotty and Anton Lienert-Brown, Beauden scored in the left corner.
The introduction of uncapped prop Karl Tu’inukuafe from the bench in the second half stiffened the All Blacks’ scrum and helped turn the tide of the match.
With a one-man advantage, New Zealand began to play with more freedom and tries flowed. Taylor scored from Beauden Barrett’s cross-kick in the 53rd minute, then provided passes which made tries for Ben Smith and McKenzie.
McKenzie in turn fed Laumape, who crashed through the tackle of Maxime Medard to score. Ioane touched down twice and Ardie Savea powered over in the embrace of four French defenders in the last minute.
“We have to believe in ourselves,” France captain Mathieu Bastareaud said. “I think there was too much surprise to lead after 40 minutes and we have to work on that for the next game.”