France have booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup but they did not convince during their 23-21 victory over Tonga. Jacques Brunel’s side initially made a strong start to Sunday’s Pool C encounter in Kumamoto as they raced into a 17-0 lead during the first half thanks largely to tries from Virimi Vakatawa and Alivereti Raka.
Related: France Stumble Past USA
However, a converted try from Tongan scrum-half Sonatane Takulua on the stroke of half-time appeared to turn the tide of the game in the Pacific Islanders’ favour and when Mali Hingano crossed six minutes after the restart it was very much game on. The accurate kicking of Romain Ntamack meant France were able to keep Tonga at arm’s length as the second-half developed, but a late Zane Kapeli try threatened to set up a grandstand finish.
However, France ultimately held on to guarantee their place in the last eight and they will face England next week in a Test that will decide which team tops Pool C. Sunday’s early kick-off saw reigning champions New Zealand wrack up the biggest score of the tournament to date, as they ran in 11 tries on their way to beating Namibia 71-9 in Pool B. Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown and Ben Smith all crossed twice for Steve Hansen’s team, while Angus Ta’avao, Joe Moody, Sam Whitelock, Jordie Barrett and TJ Perenara also got on the scoresheet.
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the All Blacks as Namibia were only a point behind their illustrious opponents with 35 minutes on the clock. New Zealand’s quality ultimately shone through though and they can guarantee top spot in Pool B with a victory over Italy next weekend.