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New lows for France

Shota Horie scores for Japan against France

France ended a miserable November in dismal fashion as they were held to a 23-23 draw by Japan at the U Arena in Paris.


Having suffered defeats to New Zealand and South Africa, Les Bleus would have been expected to get back to winning ways against the hosts of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

However, Japan – who famously shocked South Africa at the 2015 World Cup – produced a superb display and a share of the spoils was the least they deserved.

The visitors, beaten in each of their previous three Tests against France, would have snatched victory had Yu Tamura converted the 73rd-minute try from Shintaro Ishihara that levelled the scores.

However, Japan’s fly-half pulled his shot at goal wide and neither team could pick up further points in a frantic finale.


To make matters worse for France, scrum-half Baptiste Serin left the field limping heavily in the second half.

Tamura and Francois Trinh-Duc exchanged penalties early on before hooker Shota Horie went over on the left 23 minutes in to claim the game’s first try for Japan.


A fine tackle from Harumichi Tatekawa denied Gabriel Lacroix at the other end, but France moved ahead on the stroke of half-time as Rabah Slimani powered over from close range following a second Trinh-Duc three-pointer.

Japan were soon back in front after the interval, Timothy Lafaele shrugging off some weak tackling to score.

Lacroix collected a wonderful crossfield kick from Trinh-Duc to restore France’s lead, but the wing was then yellow-carded for tackling an opponent in the air and the home side also lost Serin to injury as Tamura got Japan back within two points.

Another Trinh-Duc penalty had France’s lead back up to five by the time Lacroix returned, only for Ishihara to burrow over for a match-levelling score after great work from Japan’s forwards.


Thankfully for France, Tamura was unable to add the extras.


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William 3 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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