France sneak past Tonga and into QFs

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Last Updated: 06/10/19 11:10am

France's wing Alivereti Raka (R) celebrates after scoring a try France's wing Alivereti Raka (R) celebrates after scoring a try

France’s wing Alivereti Raka (R) celebrates after scoring a try

France booked their place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals with a narrow 23-21 win over Tonga at Kumamoto Stadium on Sunday. 

Les Bleus join England in the knock-out stages and will meet them next Saturday in the Pool C decider with the winner taking on Australia, who look set to be runners up to Wales in Pool D.

Virimi Vakatawa and Alivereti Raka went over for tries for France, with Romain Ntamack booting 13 points. Sonatane Takulua, Malietoa Hingano and Zane Kapeli scored the Tonga tries.

Ntamack kicked France into an early lead after Tonga were penalised for offside.

And two minutes later they went over for the opening try when they turned the ball over in their own half before advancing forward and working it wide to Raka, who sent centre Vakatawa in for the score.

Ntamack converted and then missed another shot at goal before France went in for a second try.

France's hooker Camille Chat France's hooker Camille Chat

France’s hooker Camille Chat

Scrum-half Baptiste Serin took a quick tap penalty and fed Raka and he kicked the ball ahead, collected and touched down, with Ntamack converting from out wide to put France 17-0 up.

Tonga got back into the game shortly before the interval with the help of the TMO after Takulua was judged to have grounded the ball amid some fierce French defence.

France thought they had a third try from flanker Charles Ollivon but the crucial pass from Sebastien Vahaamahina was forward.

Malietoa Hingano of Tonga celebrates after scoring his team's second try Malietoa Hingano of Tonga celebrates after scoring his team's second try

Malietoa Hingano of Tonga celebrates after scoring his team’s second try

And Tonga went straight up the other end and got a try of their own through Hingano.

Cooper Vuna’s kick ahead bounced kindly into the hands of Hingano, who gathered and powered over the line and Takulua’s conversion brought them within three points at 17-14.

Ntamack then booted another two penalties to give France some breathing space heading into the final 20 minutes.

Damian Penaud had a try disallowed by the TMO for France after Maxime Medard knocked on in the build-up.

Tonga got a third try right at the death when referee Nic Berry played a penalty advantage and Latiume Fosita kicked wide for flanker Kapeli to gather and score in the corner.

Fosita added the extras but Tonga could not gather the ball from the kick-off and France held on for the victory.

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