French flair downs Tonga
- 16 Nov 2013
France delivered a well-rounded performance to defeat Tonga 38-18 in Le Havre.
A healthy level of passion from the Pacific Island side boiled over at the beginning of the second half, when Perpignan prop Sona Taumalolo unleashed a flurry of punches on Yoann Maestri. After a fair scrap, both players were shown straight red cards by referee Glen Jackson to reduce them to 14 men for the remainder of the match.
Tonga were already down a man after scrumhalf Taniela Moa was sin-binned for an unacceptable elbow on Dimitri Szarzewski. It was unfortunate that those two moments of indiscipline will overshadow what for large parts was a exciting performance of attacking rugby from the visitors.
The early signs appeared slightly more ominous, however, with Morgan Parra slotting a penalty in the second minute before debutant Sofiane Guitoune scored his first try for his country. Rémi Talès' perfectly-executed cross-kick found Guitoune in space in the right corner after good build-up in the middle by Wesley Fofana to put France up 8-0 after only a few minutes.
Fangatapu 'Apikotoa's first penalty for Tonga cannoned back off the post and it would take the flyhalf half an hour to put his team on the board, after Parra had added another three points to make the score 14-3.
Tonga, however, did enjoy large swathes of possession and their big carriers – centres Siale Piutau and Sione Piukala – along with Vunga Lilo broke plenty of tackles to keep France busy in defence.
They were unable though to register anything substantial on the scoreboard, 'Apikotoa adding a second penalty to cut the gap to eight points.
That changed right before the break when Damien Chouly dived over after a dominant 5m scrum whilst Moa was in the bin.
Brice Dulin then went over for Les Bleus' third try, but it was Fetu'u Vainikolo who was then rewarded for Tonga's persistence with a try. Parra cautiously extended the gap to 20 points with a penalty, before replacement hooker Benjamin Kayser wrapped things up late on following an effective French maul for their fourth try.
Vainikolo would add a second try with a fingertip finish as time ran out, no doubt much to the frustration of coach Philippe Saint-André, but France by the end were comfortable winners.
France – Tries: Sofiane Guitoune, Damien Chouly, Brice Dulin, Benjamin Kayser. Conversions: Morgan Parra (2), Frédéric Michalak. Penalties: Parra (4).
Tonga – Tries: Fetu'u Vainikolo (2). Penalties: Fangatapu 'Apikotoa (2). Conversion: Latiume Fosita.
France – 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Sofiane Guitoune, 13 Gaël Fickou, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Maxime Médard, 10 Rémi Talès, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Yannick Forestier.
Subs: 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Pascale Papé, 20 Bernard Le Roux, 21 Jonathan Pélissié, 22 Frédéric Michalak, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud.
Tonga – 15 Vunga Lilo, 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Siale Piutau, 12 Sione Piukala, 11 Viliami Helu 10 Fangatapu 'Apikotoa, 9 Taniela Moa, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Nili Latu (c), 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Joe Tu'ineau, 4 Lua Lokotui, 3 Tevita Mailau, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Subs: 16 Viliami Ma'asi, 17 Taione Vea, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Viliami Ma'afu, 20 Hale T-Pole, 21 Samisoni Fisilau, 22 Latiume Fosita, 23 David Halaifonua.
Photo: Charly Triballeau/AFP Photo
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