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Coach Galthie relieved France shook off pressure after worst possible start

PARIS - France coach Fabien Galthie was relieved his team eventually managed to shake off the huge pressure weighing on their shoulders to beat New Zealand 27-13 in their World Cup opener after enduring the worst possible start on Friday.

France conceded a try after 94 seconds as the All Blacks began the contest at full speed but Les Bleus managed to fight back to lead 9-8 at halftime.

They then turned on the engine to score two tries through Damian Penaud and Melvyn Jaminet while Thomas Ramos's boot gave them another 17 points.

"... even if it's not a knockout game, it was important to start the competition well," said Galthie.

"We felt there was a lot of pressure in the first half, it took us time to relax and they scored quickly and easily.

"We lost (hooker) Julien Marchand early on. It was the worst possible scenario and even if we were ahead at the break, we did not control the game. But then we took back control."

Galthie said New Zealand's experience and pedigree gave them an edge at the start.

"They did not feel the pressure, some of their players have three World Cups under their belt," he added.

While Galthie and his staff thought they were prepared to deal with the pressure and the atmosphere, the coach admitted they were wrong.

"We were not expecting it to be so tense, even in the stands," he said. "We thought we were ready for that kind of pressure but we were not."

France are now expected to top Pool A, but Penaud warned there was still a long way to go.

"It's important to win at home. We were a bit nervous at the beginning but we managed to relax," he said. "Let's not get carried away, even if it's a positive result." REUTERS