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Saturday, June 22, 2013

All Blacks seal series clean sweep with third Test victory over France

New Zealand sealed a 3-0 series victory over France as they won 24-9 in New Plymouth. The French upped their intensity this week and it was a far tighter affair than the final scoreline may suggest, but a series clean sweep will please the All Blacks.

Playing in his first international of the year, flyhalf Dan Carter kicked 14 points and moved within one point of becoming the first player to reach 1400 points in Test rugby. He said he was impressed with the fight that the visitors brought, despite it being somewhat of a dead rubber.

"I was really impressed with the way the French turned up to play," Carter said. "They could have easily folded up and thought up about their off-season but they turned up to play and put us under a lot of pressure. But I was happy with that final 20 and to get away with the result."

Backs Ben Smith and Beauden Barrett scored for the hosts, with hometown hero Barrett coming on late in the game and flattering the scoreline with his very well taken try.

Florian Fritz slotted a dropgoal early on before Jean-Marc Doussain's two penalties, but that was all the visitors could muster as the All Blacks defended well.

"Credit to the French they really stuck at it," said All Blacks captain Kieran Read. "A three match series is quite tough away from home and they showed the quality side they are. They really took it to us this game."

French lock Yoann Maestri was yellow carded by referee Nigel Owen for an alleged headbutt, which didn't help France's cause. The television match official couldn't confirm it, but a video review and possible citing may follow.

It was the All Blacks' first three-Test series whitewash over France in 43 years, which bodes well ahead of the Rugby Championship, but they still need to work on a few things to up the standard.

The Rugby Championship, which features South Africa, Australia and Argentina, kicks off on August 17th. France's next match is against the All Blacks again, in Paris on November 9th.

Quick highlights below, longer video on page two

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