Yellow card blows game open as NZ hammer France

New Zealand’s Codie Taylor is tackled by France's Anthony Belleau. Photo: Reuters / Ross Setford

AUCKLAND - A questionable yellow card to France lock Paul Gabrillagues allowed New Zealand to score three quick tries and set up a thumping 52-11 victory in the first test of their three-match series at Eden Park on Saturday.

With the match locked at 11-11 early in the second half, Gabrillagues was sinbinned by English referee Luke Pearce for a high tackle on Ryan Crotty, but television replays showed the 25-year-old was nowhere near the inside centre's neck or head.

Codie Taylor and Ben Smith scored tries while Gabrillagues was off the field, and Rieko Ioane added a third just seconds after the lock returned to ease the All Blacks 19 points clear with 20 minutes remaining.

Damian McKenzie, Ngani Laumape, Ioane and Ardie Savea all scored tries as the All Blacks opened the visitors up in the final quarter to clinch a 12th successive win over France and continue their 24-year unbeaten run at Eden Park.

Reuters

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