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Romain Ntamack dazzles against All Blacks on crowning night to whet appetite for World Cup

Romain Ntamack was the epitome of French composure as he dazzled against the All Blacks on his crowning night… it would be no surprise to see him starring against the same opponents in a World Cup final in two years

  • France beat New Zealand 40-25, their first win over them in 12 years 
  • France led 24-6 at the break after tries by Peato Mauvaka and Romain Ntamack
  • The All Blacks fought back to trail by two points with 20 minutes remaining 
  • But Ntamack and Damian Penaud went over to secure a historic win on Saturday 

As they had all night, France and New Zealand met head-on around halfway. Neither took a backward step. Both sides continued their laps of honour.

Eventually, Antoine Dupont hoisted the Dave Gallaher Trophy. It was an ominous image for the rest of rugby. The next time these sides meet here a much greater prize awaits, after all.

On this evidence, France and New Zealand could bring the house down on the opening and closing nights of the 2023 World Cup.

Romain Ntamack celebrates after scoring for France against New Zealand on Saturday

Depleted though these All Blacks were after three months away, this win — France’s biggest over New Zealand — was a huge statement.

And yet how different the landscape looked heading into the final quarter, when New Zealand — who had trailed 24-6 at half-time — were stalking their prey.

‘We were scared,’ Dupont admitted. ‘But we kept cool heads.’

No one more than Romain Ntamack. Never more vividly than on 62 minutes, when the fly-half gathered the ball behind his own line. As the All Blacks swarmed, with his back to play, Ntamack evaded Brad Weber, brushed off Richie Mo’unga and glided past Jordie Barrett — all before crossing the try line. Within a minute the tide had turned.

Ntamack was only 18 months old when, in 2000, France last beat New Zealand on home soil. This was the 22-year-old’s crowning night. On his star’s try, France head coach Fabien Galthie added: ‘Incredible moment.’

Ntamack was the standout performer as France ended a 14-match losing run to the All Blacks

Ntamack was the standout performer as France ended a 14-match losing run to the All Blacks