France qualify for quarter-finals | Daily News

France qualify for quarter-finals

France’s wing Alivereti Raka runs with the ball  during the 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between France and Tonga at the Kumamoto Stadium in Kumamoto on October 6. AFP
France’s wing Alivereti Raka runs with the ball during the 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between France and Tonga at the Kumamoto Stadium in Kumamoto on October 6. AFP

KUMAMOTO Sunday: France qualified for the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday with a nailbiting 23-21 win against Tonga that sets up a winner-takes-all clash with England to top Pool C.

First-half tries by Virimi Vakatawa and man-of-the-match Alivereti Raka were enough to secure the win for Les Bleus against a spirited Tongan side that competed throughout a tense encounter at the Kumamoto Stadium. Tonga topped the try-scoring count three-two against a French side that again produced a stop-start performance as they did in their first two games against Argentina and USA.

It was three penalties by Romain Ntamack that got France through to a quarter-final likely against either Wales or Australia from Pool D -- although Fiji still have a mathematical chance of a last-eight spot.

The famous French flair was on display for the first six minutes as they raced to a 10-0 lead, roared on by a loud chorus of “allez Les Bleus” from the crowd.

It was to prove an important buffer as Tonga fought back to trail by only three points at 17-14 early in the second half with the heavier Pacific island pack troubling France at scrum time. When Ntamack penalties extended the French lead to nine points, the tireless Tongans rallied to score a third try.

They also made 11 changes from their last outing against USA to take the field with arguably the strongest available line-up.

They produced an explosive start while the crowd were still getting settled when a penalty by Ntamack was followed by a try to New Zealand-born centre Vakatawa following a stolen lineout. AFP


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