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Saint-Andre glad to avoid South Africa fate

2015-09-20 10:10

Twickenham - France coach Philippe Saint-Andre urged demanding fans to rejoice in their opening World Cup win over Italy and that they avoided the shock defeat suffered by South Africa.

Saint-Andre's men beat Italy 32-10 at Twickenham but only managed two tries, from prop Rabah Slimani and replacement front row Nicolas Mas.

That means the three-time losing finalists missed out on a crucial bonus point in Pool D.

But Saint-Andre was relieved that France, much criticised in recent months, averted the humiliation inflicted on South Africa earlier Saturday when they were beaten 34-32 by Japan.

"Italy just two weeks ago nearly won in Cardiff. As we have seen today, there are no easy matches," said Saint-Andre.

"Maybe it's better to be on the French side than the South African side."

The coach was delighted by the support France received at the home ground of arch-rivals England.

"It was the first time I heard a 'French' Twickenham with the Marseillaise all throughout the match so I want to congratulate not just the team, but our public."- Huget blow -

Yoann Huget, the France wing, limped off with a potentially tournament-ending knee ligament injury in the 55th minute and Saint-Andre said "the news is not very re-assuring."

"He got injured on his own, it could be knee ligament damage. Tomorrow morning he will have a scan.

"I would have preferred to come back with Yoann and score two more tries get the bonus point, the cherry on the cake but we won."

France and Ireland, convincing 50-7 winners over Canada in Cardiff, are favourites to top a pool where the runners-up could face the New Zealand defending champions in the quarter finals.

But Saint-Andre said: "It was only the first match, it's aways difficult even for experienced players and we managed well.

"Maybe there was a little bit of nervousness. Before Ireland, we have Romania and Canada and we need to win those matches to have a chance of finishing first in the pool."

Italy coach Jacques Brunel, whose side were missing inspirational captain Sergio Parisse because of a knee injury, was unhappy with the way South African referee Craig Joubert repeatedly penalised his side at the scrum.

The set-piece has long been the foundation of Italy's game but with Joubert repeatedly pulling up Azzurri hooker Leonard Ghiraldini, Italy's stand-in skipper, they could not get into the game

"The absence of Parisse, of course it is a big factor but it's not the main factor in the difference in the score," said Brunel.

"There was an imbalance in the scrum and we didn't understand the referee," the Frenchman added.

"There were 12 scrums, we've been penalised six times and five on our own put-in."

Italy suffered an early setback when veteran centre Andrea Masi went off with a snapped Achilles tendon which threatens to rule him out of the rest of the World Cup.

It left Italy facing a midfield crisis, with Luca Morisi ruled out of the World Cup completely because of a torn ligament in his right knee suffered in the warm-up defeat by Wales and Gonzalo Garcia laid low with an ankle problem in the same match.

"We had injuries to three centres, Morisi and Garcia -- I'm not sure he can play against Canada -- and today Masi," said Brunel.

"Maybe Tommaso Benvenuti can come back, maybe we would have to call someone in."


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