SAINT-DENIS, France (Reuters) - France coach Guy Noves criticised his players for their lack of commitment in the first half of their 38-18 defeat against New Zealand in the first test of their November series on Saturday.
Les Bleus trailed 31-5 at halftime after conceding four first-half tries before fighting back in the second.
“In the first half we did not play at the level required for an international team. New Zealand have qualities, obviously, but we have not been worthy opponents in the first half,” Noves told a news conference after France’s 11th consecutive defeat against the world champions.
A decent second half, where France outscored New Zealand 13-7, was not enough to appease Noves.
“Maybe they realised that with more agressiveness and more respect for the France shirt, they could compete with this team,” he said.
“When you start off like this, being so bad, it was really a minimum to play like this in the second half, but we cannot be satisfied with our performance,” the coach added as he assessed his side’s form ahead of their second test, against South Africa at the Stade de France next Saturday.
“It would have been a drama if we didn’t have that second half.
“We have to see why we started the game like this, with so little aggressiveness.”
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen was not entirely satisfied, either.
“We lost the discipline a little and we allowed the momentum to shift,” said Hansen, who admitted his team might have eased off.
“It is difficult for any team to hold the momentum for the whole duration of the contest,” he said. “The French got confidence and they put us under pressure.”
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Neville Dalton