Tonga shock France, but Les Bleus progress
WELLINGTON, 1 Oct. - Tonga produced the shock of the tournament so far by beating France 19-14 in their final Pool A match at the Wellington Regional Stadium on Saturday.
France showed little during a match dominated territorially by Tonga, with many promising moves snuffed out by keen Tongan tackling or poor French decision-making.
"We played really bad rugby," said France captain Thierry Dusautoir. "Congratulations to Tonga. They played with their hearts.
"We made too many mistakes and just couldn't play a good game. Now we have got to sit down and talk about what we did today."
The French did score a try in the final seconds when Vincent Clerc crashed over, although it was too late to rescue the match.
However, Les Bleus, who gained a bonus point to finish with a total of 11, go through to the quarter-finals.
Tonga finished with nine points but exit the tournament on a high. They leapfrogged Canada into third place ahead of the Canucks' match with New Zealand on Sunday.
Dimitri Yachvili said Tonga had played an "enormous" match. He added: "They put their lives on this one match and we made errors.
"Now we're in a quarter-final and perhaps we won't play another one in our careers.
"We need to tell ourselves to keep together. We need to bounce back and it's going to be a lot of work."
Tonga scored their only try of the match in the 27th minute when scrum-half Taniela Moa breached the France backline with a fine run.
From the resultant tackle Kurt Morath kicked diagonally for Sukanaivalu Hufanga, who skirted the touchline in a French tackle but managed to dot down. Morath converted to give Tonga a 10-6 lead.
Out of ideas
In the 35th minute France were penalised for offside and Morath increased Tonga's lead to 13-6. That score remained at half-time, with France running out of ideas.
Tonga went 19-9 ahead in the in the 71st minute when Morath succeeded with a penalty kick to at that time remove France from bonus-point territory.
Tonga try-scorer Hufanga was given a yellow card by referee Steve Walsh two minutes from half-time when he lifted Clerc in a tackle and dumped him on his back.
French mistakes were rife in the second spell. Dimitri Yachvili missed touch with a defensive penalty and such was the Tonga dominance, it took seven minutes for the French to get out of their territory.
Yachvili made some amends in the 50th minute with a successful penalty for a late tackle by Alisona Taumalolo to close the gap to 13-9
The second tip tackle of the match saw France replacement Fabrice Estebanez given a yellow card and from the resultant penalty Morath put Tonga up 16-9 with 15 minutes to play.
Les Bleus had wasted little time getting on the scoreboard at the beginning of the match, with Yachvili slotting a penalty within the first minute.
Tonga equalised in the seventh minute through a penalty from Morath.
France began to show some attacking flair and Tonga were perhaps lucky they were penalised for being offside and did not concede a try in the 23rd minute. Yachvili kicked the simple penalty to put France ahead 6-3.
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