Thierry's all gold: Dusautoir powers to the line

CARDIFF, 6 October - France staged a second-half fightback to beat the All Blacks 20-18 in an epic encounter at Millennium Stadium.

Trailing 13-3 in the first half, tries from Thierry Dusautoir and Yannick Jauzion for France in the second 40 saw the favourites condemned to another early exit from the IRB Rugby World Cup as Les Bleus set up a semi-final with world champions England.

France bolted out of the blocks in the second half, and repeated pressure on the All Black line paid off when centre Luke McAlister was adjudged to have blocked Jauzion as the French centre tried to reach a Jean-Baptiste Elissalde chip-over. McAlister saw yellow and Lionel Beauxis kicked the penalty.

Sebastien Chabal's entrance on 51 minutes roused French support in the stands as Les Bleus pressed forward again, rewarded when Dusautoir stepped through a tackle to finish off a sweeping move. Beauxis struck the inside of the post to level the scores at 13-13.

As McAlister returned, Dan Carter limped off to be replaced by Nick Evans. That signalled a period of sustained attack by the All Blacks, rewarded as number 8 Rodney So'oialo powered low through two Frenchmen to dump the ball over the whitewash. The score remained 18-13 as McAlister put the kick wide.

Frederic Michalak made an entrance on 67 minutes to devastating effect. He immediately powered down the left, handing off to Jauzion to dive over. With Beauxis off the field, Elissalde kicked the conversion.

A cagey opening to the first half saw veteran flanker Serge Betsen being knocked out cold and helped off the field. Then Carter dispatched a penalty to make it 3-0 with 13 minutes gone. Five minutes later, Carter, Jerry Collins and McAlister combined for the centre to power through and cross next to the posts. Carter converted, then Beauxis missed a penalty for France to leave the score at 10-0.

Carter increased the lead with a penalty on 30 minutes, before Beauxis scored a last-gasp three points to get the scoreboard moving for France.

RNS pr