France 23-12 Tonga: Rugby World Cup match report, highlights and scorers

Alivereti Raka scores France's second try
Alivereti Raka scores France's second try

France secured their place in the World Cup quarter-finals with a 23-21 victory over Tonga at the Kumamoto Stadium.

France 23-21 Tonga

France tries: Vakatawa, Raka
France conversions: Ntamack (2)
France penalties: Ntamack (3)

Tonga tries: Takulua, Hingano, Kapeli
Tonga conversions: Takulua (2), Fosita

Match highlights:

France vs Tonga (23-21) | Rugby World Cup 2019 Highlights

Match report:

France secured their place in the World Cup quarter-finals with a 23-21 victory over Tonga at the Kumamoto Stadium.

France will now face a shootout with England next Saturday to determine who will finish top of Pool C.

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.

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.

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.

Match reaction:

France coach Jacques Brunel said qualification was his side's main goal after they secured a World Cup quarter-final place with a narrow 23-21 victory over Tonga in Pool C.

Speaking after the game, Brunel said, reported by the national rugby website: "What matters tonight is the qualification.

"That was our first goal: it was not easy. There were stages to pass. We passed them: sometimes with difficulty - but we passed them.

"The first thing to secure, is the qualification, which fully satisfied us."

On the game he added: "They attacked the game well, had some good chances to score in the first half.

"We wanted to make a better copy. There is still work (to do)."

Tonga have yet to win a match at the tournament so far, but coach Toutai Kefu said he was proud of his side's efforts.

Kefu said, reported by the tournament website: "We haven't started games well and it's definitely an issue for us.

"But I'm definitely proud of what happened after that - the way they stuck in there and put us in a position to maybe win.

"I'm always proud of the boys, the sacrifices they make just to turn up and endure what they endure on tour."

France will battle it out with England for the Pool C top spot on Saturday while Tonga will play the USA on Sunday in search of their first win.

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