Tonga shock France in Rugby World Cup

Tonga pulled off one of the shock results of the 2011 Rugby World Cup when they beat France 14-19 Wellington Regional Stadium.

Whilst Tonga deserved the victory and led 6-13 at half time France looked like a lost team. France played like a group of strangers who had just met without leadership.

France only needed a losing bonus point from the match and extraodinarily they were given a penalty which would have given them that point in extra time but instead they opted to scrum and even more extraordinarily produced their only try of the match from the scrum.

The South Sea Islanders hurried and harried the French into a catalogue of
errors, combining an impressive physical defence with flashes of brilliance
in attack, scrum-half Taniela Moa their motor around the park.

But the Tongans needed to win with a bonus point to have any chance of advancing
to the quarter-finals alongside unbeaten group leaders New Zealand.

France, besieged all week by rumours of internal strife between management
and players, will instead progress as runners-up after bagging a bonus point
for finishing within seven points of Tonga.

"I’m really happy that the boys came out and put in a complete performance,"
said Tonga’s jubilant captain Finau Maka.

French captain Thierry Dusautoir said his team would need to improve quickly
if they want to go past the quarter-finals.

"If we play like this next week we have no chance to go through to the
semi-finals so we have to focus on ourselves and take lessons from this,"
he said.

A try by Sukanaivalu Hufanga, who plies his trade for French fifth division
club Bergerac, allied with four penalties and one conversion from Kurt Morath,
were enough to see off three Dimitri Yachvili penalties and an injury-time Vincent
Clerc try.

Yachvili opened the scoring in the second minute with a penalty after Morath
strayed offside, the Tongan fly-half levelling the scores after prop Jean-Baptiste
Poux was penalised for a ruck infringement.

Livewire Moa, outstanding alongside No 8 Viliami Ma’afu, pinched a French line-out
at the back and kicked ahead into space, only fine scrambling defence by Alexis
Palisson thwarting the scrum-half.

Morath missed a second effort in the 18th minute but Yachvili made no mistake
after referee Steve Walsh judged a tackle on Morgan Parra as being high.

The crowd erupted, however, when a clever cross-field kick from Morath, after
another Moa break, bounced perfectly for Hufanga, who fended off Thierry Dusautoir’s
tackle to score in the corner. Morath added the extras to make it 10-6.

The French went close with a driving maul from a lineout on the half-hour mark
but a solid Tongan defence stood firm.

Morath added a second penalty as France’s defensive line was called offside,
but Tonga then suffered a blow when Hufanga was harshly yellow-carded for a
supposed tip tackle on Vincent Clerc.

The fly-half saw another penalty drift wide early in the second-half, but Yachvili
notched his third after Alisona Taumalolo’s late tackle on Parra, the prop lucky
to stay on the field.

The French continued to struggle to get into the game, the harrying Tongan
defence handing the South Sea Islanders dominance.

Morath, however, was not having the greatest evening with the boot and missed
a third kickable penalty.

When Siale Piutau broke cover, the centre spurned the simple pass for a sure
try to throw the ball out too far and a sure try-scoring opportunity went begging.

With 15 minutes to play, replacement Fabrice Estabanez was then sent to the
bin for a spear tackle on Joseph Tuineau, Morath kicking the penalty to make
it 16-9.

Morath stretched the lead to 10 points when the French were again ruled o

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