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French shelf style in grinding win

2015-09-20 10:11
Yoann Huget (AFP)

London - France made their best start to a Rugby World Cup since 2003 with their 32-10 win over Italy in Pool D on Saturday having lost to Argentina at home in 2007 and struggled past Japan four years later.

Coach Philippe Saint-Andre said he was satisfied with the job done at Twickenham even if the team needed to improve before their matches against Romania then Canada and a potential pool decider against Ireland in Cardiff on Oct. 11.

"We were solid, powerful, we controlled the match, but we had difficulty getting quick balls (and) we tried some impossible passes," Saint-Andre said.

"It was a rugged match, we were solid in defence even if we know we can do a lot better. To finish first in the group we need to win three (more) matches.

"I would have preferred three early tries and some Chantilly (cream) on the cake," he said with a wry grin. "But it was important to win today to get into the competition."

France, who have beaten in the final three times, were upset by Argentina in the opening match of the tournament they hosted eight years ago and were beaten again by the Pumas for third place, having lost their semi-final to England.

In 2011, France struggled to hold Japan, leading by only four points with 20 minutes to go before a late try rush secured a flattering 47-21 victory.

Defeats against New Zealand and Tonga followed but they somehow still limped into the quarter-finals where they beat England before scraping past Wales in the semi-finals and then losing to the All Blacks by a point in the final.

The one sour note for the French was a knee injury to Yoann Huget that Saint-Andre said look serious and had the wing in tears on the bench after he was helped off the pitch.

"The news is not very reassuring so far, it could be a cruciate ligament (injury), tomorrow morning he will have a scan," he said.

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