PARIS: World champions New Zealand were often on the back foot but a clinical three-try performance helped them beat a wasteful French side 24-19 in their final autumn test at the Stade de France on Saturday.
Flyhalf Beauden Barrett scored a try and kicked nine points, to add to Israel Dagg and Charlie Faumuina's tries, ensuring that the All Blacks, who demolished Les Bleus 62-13 in last year's World Cup, remained unbeaten in Paris since 1973.
Maxime Machenaud kicked two penalties while Baptiste Serin slotted two penalties and a conversion as France, who scored a try through Louis Picamoles, failed to make their first-half dominance count.
"They are cold-blooded killers," said France captain Guilhem Guirado.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, whose team suffered their only defeat this year against Ireland at the start of the month, said: "We are very happy with our team. To come out of the World Cup and do what we have done this year playing some good rugby we can be proud." A week after a narrow loss to Australia, France's improvement under new manager Guy Noves bodes well for next year's Six Nations, starting with a tough trip to Twickenham to face Eddie Jones's England.
Les Bleus got off to an aggressive start against the All Blacks, playing with flair, but failed to make their dominance count, losing the ball in the rucks.
The visitors, who had already beaten Ireland and Italy on tour but who also lost to the Irish for the first time in Chicago, were clinical, scoring a try on their first attack.
Barrett whipped a superb cross-field kick into the path of Julian Savea, who offloaded to Dagg for the fullback to sprint to the line. Barrett added the conversion.
France, who lost lock Yoann Maestri with a knee injury, continued to attack relentlessly and after another inspired move, Camille Lopez was bundled into touch five metres from the try-line.
New Zealand extended their lead with Barrett's 35-metre penalty and although the home side then applied more pressure, a knock-on five metres from the line ruined their efforts after several phases.
Machenaud did at least kick a 35-metre angled penalty to reduce the arrears and added another just before the interval as the hosts narrowed New Zealand's lead to just 10-6 at the break.
The All Blacks, though, made it an 11-point gap when Barrett intercepted a pass five metres from his own line, with France seemingly about to score, running the length of the field to cross between the posts before converting his own try.
Faumuina added a third try by powering through the French defence, putting New Zealand 24-9 up.
Then, the home crowd savoured French flair at its best. Les Bleus won a scrum penalty and Serin, who replaced Machenaud early in the second half, tapped it and delivered a brilliant blind pass behind his back to Picamoles, who dived over.
Serin added the conversion and kicked a penalty five minutes from time to set up a nail-biting finale but France, who had not beaten New Zealand since 2009, failed to earn their first win over the All Blacks on home soil since the 42-33 victory in Marseille in 2000.