Brilliant Blacks allege eye-gouge on Woodcock

NEW ZEALAND yesterday filed an official complaint over what they believe was an eye-gouge on prop Tony Woodcock following their crushing win over France in Marseilles on Saturday.

All Blacks support staff witnessed Woodcock receive “a facial” from a French player near the sideline as a melee broke out in the 71st minute at Stade Velodrome.

They exercised their right to lodge a complaint with the match citing commissioner within 12 hours of the final whistle, who in turn has 48 hours to officially cite a player.

“There’s no doubt Tony got a facial, that’s how he described it. We asked the citing commissioner to have a look at it and we’ll leave it in his hands,” All Blacks assistant Steve Hansen said.

“We’re not going to moan about it. There’s a process and he’ll have a look at it and if there’s nothing to answer, then we’ll just get on with it.”

Woodcock emerged with abrasions around both eyes but Hansen said his vision wasn’t affected.

Meanwhile, France prop Fabien Barcella admitted his side were little more than “a sparring partner” for New Zealand.

New Zealand scored five tries to none and completely dominated the final 30 minutes of a game the relatively youthful French team were desperately hoping would cast in stone their aspirations ahead of the 2011 World Cup.

Loosehead prop Barcella, who gave Neemia Tialata a torrid opening quarter before fading badly, said France had given away too much ball.

“There’s where we have to perform better, keeping the ball to stop them playing,” Barcella said.

“We tried to play but were foiled, having come across a stronger team than us. Maybe it’s a good thing to see all the work we need to do.

“There were some very good things during this autumn series and some less good. We wanted to lay down the same foundations as against South Africa but they weren’t there.

“We beat the world champions and had a great game against Samoa. But it proves that there’s an enormous gap between us and the All Blacks.

“They weren’t the same side as in the summer (when France won the first Test in Dunedin before going on to lose the second). They’ve got players back like Richie McCaw, who’s not the best player in the world for nothing, and Dan Carter, who is an extraordinary player.

“We came up against an outstanding team and we were used as a sparring partner. It’s a shame to finish the autumn series in this way.

“For the first time something was expected of France and we were taken seriously by the All Blacks.”

Francois Trinh-Duc, who was completely overshadowed by opposite number ten Carter – named man-of-the-match for his glittering contribution that included 14 points with his boot, said much remained for the French to do.

The hosts started brightly and twice led in the first half, but Sitiveni Sivivatu, Mils Muliaina and Jerome Kaino crossed to put the All Blacks – unusually, sporting white jerseys – 22-12 up at the break.

And Cory Jane and Conrad Smith rounded off an ultimately comfortable victory as France tailed off in a one-sided second half.

FRANCE: D Traille; V Clerc, D Marty, Y Jauzion, M Medard; F Trinh-Duc, J Dupuy; F Barcella, W Servat, S Marconnet; S Chabal, R Millo-Chluski; T Dusautoir (capt), F Ouedraogo, J Bonnaire.

Replacements: Y David for Jauzion (63), M Parra for Dupuy (59), D Szarzewski for Servat (47), N Mas for Marconnet (51), L Nallet for Chabal (52), J Puricelli for Ouedraogo (63), C Heymans for Clerc (77).

NEW ZEALAND: M Muliaina; C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu, S Sivivatu; D Carter, J Cowan; T Woodcock, A Hore, N Tialata; B Thorn, T Donnelly; J Kaino, R McCaw (capt), K Read.

Replacements: L McAlister for Nonu (71), S Donald for Carter (77), A Ellis for Cowan (75), C Flynn for Hore (74), A Boric for Tialata (65), O Franks for Thorn (65).

Referee: Alan Rolland (Ireland).

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