1.Red cards do not always ruin a contest
The Wellington Test was not ruined because of the harsh red card handed to Benjamin Fall. It was ruined by poor, uneven play by both teams. France was long on courage and commitment, but short on attacking verve and panache. Its limitations were clear. The All Blacks were just loose and profligate with the ball. It smacked of the Wales-France 2011 RWC semifinal. Even when Sam Warburton was sent off, Wales should have won but just played badly. France was slightly less mediocre on the night. Do not blame the red card, even if the law – as in the case of Fall – is an ass.
2.Richie Mo'unga is the No 2 No 10 in NZ
Most of us already knew this, to be fair. It was not that Damian McKenzie played poorly after replacing the concussed Beauden Barrett at the 12-minute mark. Far from it. But he failed to exert control with his kicking and tactical game. This was not entirely his fault, as the pack was not able to wrest control. But the time is ripe for the classy Richie Mo'unga to show us his wares in the starting XV.
3.The French are better than we thought at the breakdown
Much of the All Blacks' game is based around swift ball from the ruck. Get in there and disrupt the flow and you go a long way to hindering their patterns. Jacques Brunel rang the right changes, Kevin Gourdon shifting to No 8, and Kelian Galletier and Mathieu Babillot on the flanks. As a trio, they worked collaboratively at the breakdown, exhausting Sam Cane and forcing several turnovers. The French needed to be more Jean-Pierre Rives than Olivier Magne. It worked.
4.The All Blacks are not quite as good as they think they are
We know the All Blacks are past-masters at winning even when they have not played well, but it is fair to say they have hit their straps in only about 40-45 minutes out of 160 in the series thus far. They are a long way from being able to call upon their best XV, but it goes to show that cohesion and match fitness do not just come to the fore as of right. Improvement was expected from the pack after Eden Park, but it never came, despite yeoman work from Sam Whitelock. Time to ring the changes for Dunedin.
5.The French cannot buy a trick on this tour
They say you make your own luck. Maybe. Maybe not. But sometimes you are dealt dud hands. After lock Paul Gabrillagues was unfairly binned at Eden Park, the French might have thought lightning would never strike twice. Cue the Benjamin Fall incident. Then you shudder at the thought of what might have been if second five Geoffrey Dumayrou had not been held up over the line early doors or if young replacement hooker Pierre Bourgarit had not rabbited over the line not long after TJ Perenara’s sinbinning. Zut alors!