Dupont: France problems persist but the pressure is off

Handling errors, set-piece frailties, conceding too many penalties - there is plenty for France to work on before they play England but they are 'in a good place overall' says scrum-half.

KUMAMOTO, 8 Oct – Antoine Dupont may have helped France reach the RWC 2019 quarter-finals but he is aware that the whole team will need to improve their performance against England.

The scrum-half came off the bench as Les Bleus edged past Tonga 23-21 on Sunday to confirm their place in the last eight.

On Saturday they face their cross-Channel rivals at the International Stadium Yokohama in a battle to secure first place in Pool C, which England lead, two points ahead of France.

The match against Tonga was the second in which France nearly let slip a significant lead and, like their opening fixture against Argentina, they were relieved to finish victorious.

England, meanwhile, have won three from three - all with a bonus point.

"There are a few things to look at," Dupont said. "We could have killed the game off sooner, but we've qualified.

"The problems persist. We made handling errors, we were still penalised, and the set-pieces (pictured) were not always reliable.

"We missed the control that would have allowed us to be more comfortable, but we were never in real trouble or very worried.

"Our defence was strong. We are still in a good place overall."

France's most recent clash with England was a match to forget for Les Bleus at Twickenham, where the hosts ran in five tries on their way to a 44-8 victory in the Six Nations.

However, Jacques Brunel's team can take heart from 2011. In that year's Six Nations, England won 17-9, but when they faced each other in the World Cup quarter-finals at Eden Park, Auckland, it was France who reached the semi-finals with a 19-12 win.

Whoever emerges victorious on Saturday will not be able to celebrate for long, with Australia or Wales their likely quarter-final opponents.

"We can measure ourselves against one of the best teams in the world without having to worry about qualification," said Dupont. "It's always a good test.

"After the pool phase there is no good draw. There are only the big teams left."

RNS ji/sg/pp/bo