For French captain Thierry Dusautoir, one statistic over the weekend encapsulates why it will take something special to end the All Blacks’ winning streak.
France had the advantage in most facets during Saturday’s 26-19 loss to New Zealand in Paris – notably the offloads, usually a good measure of which team has played with more attacking intent.
The hosts made 18 offloads to the All Blacks’ two.
One of those two was young wing Charles Piutau’s spectacular flick pass to send No.8 Kieran Read across for his fifth try in his last five Tests.
“That is the thing that separates us. We matched them in terms of physical intensity but perhaps were lacking the lucidity that they have,” veteran flanker Dusautoir said.
“They had two opportunties to score and they took them. If you look at our try, it was well constructed after many phases of play.”
France lacked the killer blow as they launced an assault on New Zealand’s tryline over the closing minutes.
They came desperately close to snatching a draw when No.8 Damien Chouly was held up over the line by fullback Israel Dagg and reserve halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow.
That would have ended New Zealand’s bid to become the first team in the professional era to complete a perfect winning season.
With 12 wins from 12 so far, the All Blacks must win their remaining Tests against England and Ireland to achive that goal, something coach Steve Hansen believes the Paris Test has set them up for nicely.
“France had some genuine tactics that they wanted to stress us with, which at times they did,” Hansen said.
“They didn’t just play shuffle-shuffle pass-pass and we didn’t see the type of game they played against us in June where they just wanted to make contact.
“Their mindset was that they wanted to play.”