France delivered another less-than-impressive performance in their latest World Cup win, a 23-21 over a fast-finishing Tonga side, setting up a final pool clash against old rivals England.
Jacques Brunel’s side has come under fire for lacklustre displays against the lesser-knowns after coming away with a first-up win over Argentina. However, after the Los Pumas’ 14-man defeat to England and the win over Tonga, France have secured a quarterfinal spot without the Le Crunch fixture playing a part.
“We did what we had to do with the win. We knew qualification was the primary goal, and it’s done,” flyhalf Romain Ntamack said following the win.
Continue reading below…
“It was difficult for a while, and it became a tough match. The Tongans clung on right to the end. There are things to fix but we’ll take the win.”
“I’m not saying we were scared because we were in control. Tonga came back in the end, but we were never in danger. For me, the score doesn’t reflect the nature of the game.”
France will know that this kind of performance will not be up to scratch against a powerful England side who dispatched them 44-8 at Twickenham earlier this year in the Six Nations. The French were awful in kick coverage that day as England picked apart a feeble back three with an aerial assault.
“It’s a game that matters,” the Toulouse-utility back said of the England fixture.
“We will be facing a better team. We will try and respond, to play our own game. It’s been a few years since England made such an impact. They’ll want to reassert that.”
This time around the result will decide who tops Pool C, with France keen on showing improvement ahead of the knockout stages. Ntamack says the side needs to be more patient to avoid making the same errors.
“We know there’s no consistency. We can’t play a full game from the first to the 80th minute. It didn’t happen today. We need to be more patient. We must work on not making the same old errors,” he said.
Elusive halfback Antoine Dupont is excited about facing England without the fear of elimination which will allow the side to test themselves ahead of the finals.
“We are in the quarter-finals, and before that, a big game awaits us against England. We can measure ourselves against one of the best teams in the world without having to worry about qualification. It’s always a good test,” he said.
“We’re going to concentrate on our own rugby. We’re not going to speculate: after the pool phase there is no good draw. There are only the big teams left.”
Dupont also was not worried about the performance against Tonga, saying the side ‘were never in real trouble’ but missed the control they needed to be more comfortable.
“There are a few things to look at. We could have killed the game off sooner. But we’ve qualified. Not many people believed in us. We can be happy with that for now.”
England coach Eddie Jones following win over Argentina:
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.