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France shock favorites New Zealand

  • Story Highlights
  • France came from 13-0 down to beat favorites New Zealand in the World Cup
  • Their 20-18 win earns them a semifinal against England in Paris next Saturday
  • Thierry Dusautoir and Yannick Jauzion score tries for the French
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CARDIFF, Wales -- France fought back from 13-0 down to pull off an astonishing 20-18 victory and send favorites New Zealand crashing out of the Rugby World Cup in Cardiff.

Jauzion leaves four All Blacks in his wake as he crosses the line to make it 18-18.

Against all the odds it will be France against England in the semifinal at the Stade de France next Saturday rather than the Australia v New Zealand encounter most people expected.

The game turned on a controversial decision by English referee Wayne Barnes early in the second half when the All Blacks led 13-3. He ruled that Luke McAlister's collision with Yannick Jauzion was worthy of yellow card for the All Black center.

Lionel Beauxis kicked the penalty and France piled on the pressure to make the one-man advantage pay over the next 10 minutes.

In the 53rd minute they drew level when Vincent Clerc sent Thierry Dusautoir in for a great try, which Beauxis converted.

McAlister returned but New Zealand then lost fly-half Dan Carter, who limped off to be replaced by Nick Evans.

The All Blacks, who had never before failed to reach the last four in a World Cup, came roaring back to regain the lead when a period of pressure ended with No. 8 Rodney So'oialo forcing himself over in the 62nd minute.

McAlister's conversion attempt was wide and France then pulled off a master stroke by bringing on Frederic Michalak to replace Beauxis.

After 68 minutes Damien Traille took the ball at speed and fed Michalak, who sprinted through the defense before pirouetting to pass to Jauzion, who surged over. Jean-Baptiste converted to send France ahead for the first time.

There was little sign of what was to come during the first period.

Carter kicked a 12th minute penalty as New Zealand put France under immense pressure. In the 16th minute a desperate tackle by Clerc just prevented a try in the corner from Ali Williams, whose foot went into touch just before he grounded the ball.

The let-off was brief however. Two minutes later McAlister cut through the French defense and exchanged passes with Jerry Collins before plunging over for a superb try, converted by Carter.

When Carter kicked a long-range penalty after 30 minutes the New Zealand fans could have been forgiven for looking forward to returning to France for the semifinal.

Beauxis, who had missed some early kicks, finally found the target with the last effort of the first half to make it 13-3 but even then an All Blacks defeat appeared remote.

At the end French coach Bernard Laborite said: "Bravo to all the players. After losing the first match to Argentina, we suffered a lot of things but tonight the response was there. We beat a great team and we want to go further." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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