Even in Antoine Dupont’s absence, the Roosters scored eight tries against Italy to qualify as the winners of Group A for the World Cup quarter-finals.
While the influential captain and scrumhalf follows the action from his pavilion seat, Damian Penaud and co ran amok against the Italians on Friday evening to conclude the showdown with 60 – 7.
The attacking French advanced 513m with the ball in hand, while 22 times they made the pizza experts reach for air. At the same time, their clever kicking also regularly kept the scoreboard going; whether through Thomas Ramos’ accurate set-piece work, or thanks to some excellent cross-kicks which were often followed up by willing hands on the way to the goal line.
“We did what was expected of us. Everyone knew that we had to win the game and we did it at a trot,” said Maxime Lucu.
The 30-year-old, who wore the number nine jersey for the French in Dupont’s absence, was proud of his teammates’ work ethic.
“We wanted to put our stamp on the game right from the start and we played with excellent discipline.”
Lucu’s liaison partner, Matthieu Jalibert, believes that France has kept its foot on the accelerator.
“We didn’t lie down for one moment and played with the same intensity for the full 80 minutes,” said the Bordeaux flyhalf.
As the winners of Group A, France will face the runners-up of Group B in next weekend’s quarter-finals.
France: Tries: Damian Penaud (2), Yoram Moefana (2), Louis Bielle-Biarrey, Thomas Ramos, Matthieu Jalibert and Peato Mauvaka. Goal kicks: Ramos (6) and Melvyn Jaminet. Penalty kicks: Ramos and Jaminet.
Italy: Three: Manuel Zuliani. Goal kick: Tommaso Allan.
- Group A standings:
- France: 18 points after four games
- New Zealand: 15 points after four games
- Italy: 10 points after four games
- Uruguay: 5 points after four games
- Namibia: no points after four games.