France survive Tonga scare and set up England game to decide Pool C winner

first_imgFrance rugby union team Share via Email Tonga rugby union team Having secured second place in the pool behind England, three-times finalists France now head to Yokohama seeking victory over Eddie Jones’s men for a kinder route through the knockout rounds.France had laboured to a 33-9 win against the USA on Wednesday but they were switched on on Sunday , when the flair and enterprise of Virimi Vakatawa and Alivereti Raka caught the eye. The latter burst away from a botched lineout before offloading to Vakatawa for the first try in the fifth minute as France went 10-0 up. “For me, happy playing next to another Fijian,” Raka said of his partnership with Vakatawa. “We talk a lot and we are talking on the same level so it’s easy for us.” Quick guide Italy duo receive three-match bans for lifting tackles France lost momentum after their fast start, with handling errors and passes floating forward and wide but their defence remained solid and they hit top gear again when the scrum-half Baptiste Serin caught Tonga napping with a quick-tap penalty, whipping the ball wide to a charging Raka, who kicked a grubber past the last defender and collected it on the try line.Tonga needed to respond and did so. Snatching the ball out of a ruck, the scrum-half Sonatane Takulua was rewarded with a try after a lengthy TMO review to make it 17-7 at half-time.The match turned on its head shortly after the interval, with a thrilling try for the flanker Charles Ollivon ruled out by the TMO because of a forward pass. Tonga immediately won a turnover with a bone-jarring tackle in midfield and the wing Cooper Vuna hoofed the ball downfield where it bounced wickedly and straight into the arms of Malietoa Hingano, who barged over. Support The Guardian Rugby World Cup 1999 Was this helpful? Thank you for your feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Topics Rugby World Cup Hide • Fixtures, tables and results• Top try and points scorers• Stadium guide• Referee guide• Our latest minute-by-minute live reports• Sign up to The Breakdown, our free rugby union email newsletterTeam guidesPool A: Ireland, Japan, Russia, Samoa, ScotlandPool B: Canada, Italy, Namibia, New Zealand, South AfricaPool C: Argentina, England, France, Tonga, USAPool D: Australia, Fiji, Georgia, Uruguay, Wales Photograph: Christophe Ena/AP Show All Blacks fall behind before brushing aside brave Namibia at Rugby World Cup Prop Andrea Lovotti and replacement Nicola Quaglio will miss Italy’s final Rugby World Cup Pool B game against New Zealand, as well as any potential quarter-final and semi-final, after both receiving three-match bans for lifting tackles, a judicial committee said on Sunday.Lovotti was sent off for dropping Duane Vermeulen on his head in the 43rd minute of Friday’s game against the Springboks while Quaglio was cited for his involvement in the same tackle as Italy went on to lose 49-3.”If Italy does not progress, the balance of the suspensions will be served in the players’ upcoming Pro14 matches,” the committee said. Reuters Share on WhatsApp Read more Quick guide Our Rugby World Cup 2019 coverage Show France redoubled their intensity at the breakdown and the pressure told as Tonga’s discipline waned. Ntamack knocked over two penalties to make it 23-14 and the match appeared settled when Penaud cantered over in the 68th minute. But again the try was ruled out to leave French fans howling, with a knock-on by the full-back Maxime Médard spotted by the TMO and setting up Tonga for their last desperate yet fruitless charge. But the France wing Damian Penaud, caught out of position for the final try, soared high to tap back the restart kick and allow France to hold on. “Today it was different to what we wanted to do – it was quite a hard game,” said the France coach, Jacques Brunel. “The most important thing is that we got our ticket to the quarter-finals, so I’m happy about that.”Tonga, whose 19-14 win over Les Bleus in New Zealand remains a fairytale chapter in World Cup history, were 17-0 down before half-time but battled back valiantly. For a fleeting moment it seemed there could be a repeat of the Wellington result but two second-half penalties from the assured boot of the young fly-half Romain Ntamack gave the French a cushion that proved just sufficient.“Definitely frustrated, again we didn’t get off to the best of starts and that probably told in the end,” said the Tonga coach, Toutai Kefu. “The guys dug in there … there was a period in the second half when the game was in the balance and the guys hung in and hung in. You can’t question their effort.” Share on Pinterest Rugby World Cup 2019 match reports … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. 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Share on LinkedIn Since you’re here… Was this helpful? Read more Share on Facebook France 23-21 Tonga: Rugby World Cup 2019 – as it happened Hide Rugby union France survived a frantic fightback from Tonga to grind into the quarter-finals with a nerve-jangling win that only just banished the ghost of their surprise defeat to them at the 2011 tournament. The upshot was that they join England in the knockout stages, sending Tonga out with three successive defeats, while also eliminating Argentina and the USA.In a dramatic finale, the Tonga flanker Zane Kapeli collected a cross-kick for a late try, Latiume Fosita’s conversion bringing them within two points with under a minute left. Share on Twitter Share on Messenger Reuse this contentlast_img read more