Rugby

Spedding praised in France win

2014-11-09 08:42
Scott Spedding (Getty Images)

Marseille - France coach Philippe Saint-Andre was savouring a rare unmitigated success after his side dismantled Fiji 40-15 despite seven players making their debuts.

Teddy Thomas scored a hat-trick of tries - only the second French debutant to do so following Rodolphe Modin against Zimbabwe in 1987 - while South African born Scott Spedding set up two of those.

Thomas's Racing-Metro team-mate Alexandre Dumoulin was a powerful runner in midfield while those that came off the bench had little chance to shine - although prop Uini Atonio made a couple of handling errors, one that cost his side a try.

"The priority was the win. Five tries today (Saturday) plus seven new caps, it's a long time since that has happened," said Saint-Andre.

"The fans were superb in Marseille and got behind us for 80 minutes, so we'll take lots of positives tonight before tomorrow (Sunday) thinking about preparing for Australia."

Saint-Andre was determined to enjoy this victory, the second largest of his 30 matches - and just 12 wins - at the helm of Les Bleus, a run that has seen his side finish bottom of the Six Nations in 2013 and suffer whitewash Tour defeats to New Zealand (2013) and Australia (this year).

And he said there is time yet to focus on preparing for Australia, who handed his side 50-23 and 39-13 thumpings Down Under in June.

"We were concentrated on this afternoon's event against Fiji. Afterwards we know that Australia won in Wales (33-28) even though they were down 28-27 at one point.

"We'll debrief tomorrow (Sunday) and then get into the Australia match with video analysis on Monday.

"Today I'm thinking of another match, there's a lot to talk about with the new caps.

"There's lots of singing, it's great to see a changing room with smiles, even though we know not everything was perfect."

Saint-Andre aligned his 13th different half-back pairing since taking over three years ago but he was pleased with the performances of scrumhalf Sebastien Tillous-Borde and flyhalf Camille Lopez.

"On the first move Cami (Lopez) put the ball on a plate for Teddy Thomas with his foot," said the coach.

"But in the first half we looked too much to the forwards, we could have gone wide more, something we did well at start of the match and in the second half."

Fiji's New Zealander coach John McKee said he had been surprised by France's expansive game, particularly the counter-attacking of Spedding.

"France were very, very good on the night. Credit to the French team, they changed their style of play a bit," said McKee.

"They had a much more attacking attitude than they showed in the Six Nations or June Tests in Australia. The different selections really boosted their performance.

"The fullback (Spedding) was very good on the kick return. In the first half we kicked out of our zone and expected them to kick back to us but they ran it out.

"Credit to the French team, they played very well but our errors allowed them to capitalise in the second half."

Saint-Andre said his team will need to take some more forward strides before they host the Wallabies in Paris next weekend, but he said this had served as good preparation - despite Fiji scoring a length of the field try in the final minute.

"It's an ideal preparation because we conceded that last try which shows there are a lot of things to improve on.

"We know Australia are another calibre so we'll need all our strengths and those of our players.

"We need more precision and an exceptional public in the Stade de France against Australia."

Read more on:    france  |  scott spedding  |  rugby
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