France's Sebastien Chabal savoured a rare victory on New Zealand soil after the 27-22 triumph in Dunedin. France enjoyed success on the All Blacks' home turf for the first time since 1994, and they did it in style at Carisbrook as they outscored their opponents by three tries to two and dominated the physical battle up front. New Zealand were without several of their star players, and the absence of the likes of Richie McCaw and Daniel Carter was felt, but for Chabal and his teammates the taste of success was still sweet. Chabal said: "Every win is good, but the All Blacks in New Zealand, you don't do that every week. It's massive. "We haven't won here for 15 years. Just two teams have won here and it's always fantastic to beat the All Blacks especially in New Zealand."
But the "Caveman" warned his side against complacency with another showdown in Wellington next weekend. "It's the perfect start that will build our confidence up," Chabal said. "But if we don't prepare well for the game next week we can lose by 60 points. "I know that because the last time I came here we conceded almost 100 points in two games. "Staying focused and preparing well is important." The French blasted the All Blacks off the ball in the rucks and, particularly in the first half, the New Zealanders simply had no answers to the huge physical effort by the visitors. For Chabal, who came off the bench with just over 60 minutes to go, it was a pleasing sight.
"I was quite happy because the pack played really aggressively and I think that's the key to our winning," he said. "We won a lot of the contact area and the All Blacks lost quite a lot of ball in the first 30 to 35 minutes. "We could see in their eyes they didn't know what to do and they started to have doubt." But the hulking loose forward admitted to a touch of nerves when New Zealand clawed their way back from 17-3 down to be just six points behind at the break. "Just before half-time it was quite difficult because in just two minutes they came back from 17-3 to 17-11," Chabal added. "We started to put our head down. In the changing room we said we had a great first half and if we kept going we will win and that's what happened."
The All Blacks coach Graham Henry admitted his side had been second best and had not deserved to win. "The French played exceptionally well," Henry said. "They were more physical than us in the early parts of the game. After 30 minutes it didn't look too good. "The French need big congratulations. I thought their defence was excellent." Mils Muliaina, in his first Test as captain of New Zealand, said the inexperienced side had been outmuscled in that first half-hour but he was happy with the way they had fought back. Muliaina said: "We missed crucial tackles and put ourselves under a lot of pressure and we started to play catch-up football. "In saying that, I thought the boys came back well. I don't want to use it as an excuse but we are a relatively young side and I thought the way we came back after being 17-3 down showed a lot of ticker. "Unfortunately we didn't quite get there in the end. We've just got to rebuild now. "We've taken the loss pretty hard. We know we haven't played as well as we wanted to. We've just got to get tighter as a group. "We know we've got things to fix but what is pleasing is that we've got a group of young men who are willing to do that and that's all you can ask for." *PA Sport