France 33-9 USA: Rugby World Cup match report, highlights and scorers

Gael Fickou goes over France
Gael Fickou goes over France

Three late tries spared France's blushes as they secured a bonus-point World Cup win over the United States in Fukuoka City.

France 33-9 USA

France tries: Huget, Raka, Fickou, Serin, Poirot
France conversions: Ramos, Lopez 3

USA pens: MacGinty 3

Match highlights

HIGHLIGHTS: France v USA - Rugby World Cup 2019

Match report

Three late tries spared France's blushes as they secured a bonus-point World Cup win over the United States in Fukuoka City.

Les Bleus were in trouble when USA fly-half AJ MacGinty kicked a third penalty on 64 minutes to trim their lead to 12-9 but three converted tries in the last 14 minutes helped them to a flattering 33-9 victory which keeps them in touch with Pool C leaders England.

France coach Jacques Brunel made 12 changes to the team that began the tournament with a 23-21 win over Argentina and for an hour they looked a disjointed outfit.

Led for the first time by veteran number eight Louis Picamoles on his 81st appearance, the French made the best possible start when fly-half Camille Lopez chipped over the States defence for winger Yoann Huget to open the scoring.

Full-back Thomas Ramos added the conversion to make it 7-0 but Sale Sharks favourite MacGinty's penalty goal kept the minnows in touch.

Another precision kick from Lopez, this time lofted to the corner, enabled right winger Alivereti Raka to score a well-executed try that extended France's lead to 12-3 but that only served to harden the resolve of the gutsy USA team, who rallied superbly following their 45-7 defeat by England.

Another MacGinty penalty as France continued to lose their discipline made it 12-6 at the break and Brunel's men missed a glorious chance nine minutes into the second half when Raka was denied a second try for a forward pass by centre Sofiane Guitoune.

The crowd sensed a major shock when MacGinty kicked a third penalty to cut the deficit to just three points but France could breathe more easily on 66 minutes when centre Gael Fickou, one of just four players to keep their places from the opening game, sliced through for a much-needed try.

Lopez's conversion made it 19-9 and France cut loose in the last 10 minutes with two further tries from their replacements.

Scrum-half Baptiste Serin finished off a break by Raka and prop Jefferson Poirot forced his way over from a driving maul, with Lopez adding both conversions.

In the end it was mission accomplished but Brunel will be looking for an improvement when his side take on Tonga on Sunday before meeting Eddie Jones' men on Saturday week for a clash that could determine the group winners.

Match reaction

France were indebted to their bench players after scoring 21 points in the last 14 minutes to secure a relieving bonus-point World Cup win over the United States in Fukuoka City.

Les Bleus were in trouble when Sale Sharks' USA fly-half AJ MacGinty kicked a third penalty after 64 minutes to trim their lead to 12-9.

But centre Gael Fickou scored a crucial try two minutes later and replacements Baptiste Serin and Jefferson Poirot both went over in the last 10 minutes to clinch a flattering 33-9 victory which keeps their side in touch with Pool C leaders England.

Lock Bernard Le Roux said: "We got a big surprise in the first half. We thought it was going to be a bit easier but they got stuck in and gave us a tough time at the breakdowns and we didn't get clean ball.

"So it was really tough, especially in the first half and the bench did well when they came on.

"They made a big difference and we got some go-forward and our set plays opened up play on the outside."

In the end it was mission accomplished but coach Jacques Brunel will be looking for an improvement when his side take on Tonga on Sunday before meeting Eddie Jones' men on Saturday week for a clash that could determine the group winners.

USA coach Gary Gold believes his side have made big strides after their opening 45-7 defeat by England as the tier two nations continue to narrow the gap on the big guns.

"I'm incredibly proud of this group of players," Gold said. "I felt we went toe to toe.

"We did make some mistakes and when you play against a team of the French calibre, when you make mistakes they are going to make you pay. But we never gave up the fight, not for the full 80 minutes.

"I'm just so proud of everybody, the reserves made a big difference when they came on, we worked incredibly hard for this today.

"A bit sad we didn't get a try for more on the scoreboard, but just a very, very good performance and really positive for the way forward.

"The gap is definitely closing quite a lot. If you look back a couple of years ago, a couple of World Cups ago, there were 70, 80-point drubbings for tier ones versus tier twos but now we are giving ourselves a chance 65 minutes into the game.

"This Rugby World Cup is going to be a big learning curve for us because the more teams we play of this calibre, the French, and Argentina next week, we're going to get better and better."

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