France weathered a dogged performance from the USA to claim a hard-fought 33-9 win in their World Cup encounter in Fukuoka on Wednesday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The scoreline flattered France, who can count themselves fortunate to have secured the bonus point. The French coaching staff will probably be relieved that they came away with all five points, which is enough to move them ahead of Argentina into second place in Pool C.
The Americans, meanwhile, will be pleased with a much-improved showing, especially defensively, from their heavy loss to England in their first match of the tournament. Gary Gold’s side didn’t lack for bravery on attack either and took the game to France, putting them under some serious pressure.
It was a standout showing from in-form Camille Lopez that proved the difference, as well as a late flurry of tries in the final 10 minutes. The French flyhalf set up both their tries with perfectly executed kicks over the defence, allowing wings Yoann Huget and Alivereti Raka to score.
The USA certainly enjoyed their share of opportunities, and were perhaps unlucky not to find themselves playing against 14 men in the first half as France conceded multiple penalties in the red zone, but referee Ben O’Keefe refused to show a yellow card. They will also be annoyed that they could not apply the finishing touches, which may have led to yet another World Cup upset.
France – Tries: Yoann Huget, Alivereti Raka, Gael Fickou, Bapiste Serin, Jefferson Poirot. Conversions: Camille Lopez (2).
USA –Penalty: AJ MacGinty (3).
France – 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Alivereti Raka, 13 Sofiane Guitoune, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Louis Picamoles (c), 7 Yacouba Camara, 6 Arthur Iturria, 5 Paul Gabrillagues, 4 Bernard Le Roux, 3 Emerick Setiano, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Cyril Baille.
Subs: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Jefferson Poirot, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 20 Gregory Alldritt, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Romain Ntamack, 23 Maxime Medard.
USA – 15 Mike Teo, 14 Blaine Scully (c), 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Bryce Campbell, 11 Martin Iosefo, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Shaun Davies, 8 Cam Dolan, 7 Hanco Germishuys, 6 Tony Lamborn, 5 Nick Civetta, 4 Nate Brakeley, 3 Titi Lamositele, 2 Joe Taufetee, 1 Eric Fry.
Subs: 16 Dylan Fawsitt, 17 Olive Kilifi, 18 Paul Mullen, 19 Greg Peterson, 20 Ben Pinkelman, 21 Ruben de Haas, 22 Will Magie, 23 Thretton Palamo.
Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images