Hosts France emerged victorious in the highly-anticipated opening game of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, stunning fellow tournament favorites New Zealand with a 27-13 win. The clash, held at the Stade de France in Paris, witnessed an intense battle between two rugby powerhouses.
The game started off on a high note for New Zealand, as winger Mark Telea scored a try within the opening two minutes, courtesy of Beuden Barrett’s impeccable cross-field kick. However, France quickly responded, with Thomas Ramos converting a penalty to narrow the gap. The match continued to be fiercely contested, with France taking the lead for the first time in the first half through another penalty from Ramos.
New Zealand managed to regain a slender lead with a penalty from Richie Mo’unga, but Ramos once again showcased his kicking prowess, securing three penalties to put France back in the lead before halftime. The second half mirrored the first, as Telea scored another try for New Zealand, only to be thwarted by an outstanding intervention from France’s Damian Penaud.
Shortly after, Penaud made amends by touching down for a try, propelling France back into the lead. New Zealand’s hopes of a comeback were dealt a blow when Will Jordan received a yellow card and a 10-minute sin bin for an in-air collision with a French player. France capitalized on the advantage, with Ramos adding two more penalties to extend their lead.
With time running out, France sealed their victory with a late try from Melvyn Jaminet, sparking jubilation among the home fans. The win provides France with a favorable draw in the next stage of the tournament, while New Zealand faces a tougher path to clinching their fourth World Cup title.
Reflecting on the victory, France’s Gregory Alldritt expressed his pride in his team’s performance. He acknowledged the challenges that lie ahead and emphasized the importance of taking each step carefully. France’s next match is against Uruguay in Lille, while New Zealand aims to secure their first points against Namibia in Toulouse.
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