Rugby World Cup 2007
France bounce back in style
September 16, 2007
Sebastien Chabal battles his way to scoring a try against Namibia
© Getty Images
Hosts France got their World Cup campaign back on track by powering to an 87-10 victory over Namibia in their Pool D clash in Toulouse. World Cup hosts France took out nine days of pent-up frustration on 14-man Namibia with a resounding Pool D victory.
Toulouse winger Vincent Clerc delighted the home fans by running-in a hat-trick and there were two apiece for bulldozing forwards Lionel Nallet and Sebastien Chabal. Cedric Heymans, David Marty, Thierry Dusautoir, Julien Bonnaire, Raphael Ibanez and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde also crossed in a terrible mis-match at Le Stade which saw Jacques Nieuwenhuis shown a straight red card in the 19th minute for a `clothesline' on Chabal.
France included eight Toulouse players in their line-up as they sought to nudge their World Cup back on track against Namibia at Le Stade. Hoping to get the home crowd behind Les Bleus after losing to Argentina in a disastrous curtain raiser, coach Bernard Laporte was banking on the Toulouse factor to inspire his team.
Only three players - Cedric Heymans, Damien Traille and Pieter De Villiers - remained from the side edged 17-12 by the Pumas. Local favourite Frederic Michalak started at fly-half after replacing the injured David Skrela at the Stade de France in a valuable opportunity to stake his claim for the number 10 jersey.
Namibia made three changes, one positional, to the team that troubled Ireland a week ago before losing 32-17. Openside Michael MacKenzie replaced the injured Heino Senekal while Jacques Nieuwenhuis and Jacques Burger swapped place in the back row.
And Jurie van Tonder was promoted to the starting line-up at scrum-half ahead of Eugene Jantjies, who was forced to settle for a place among the substitutes. Eager to make amends for the stage fright that marred their start to the World Cup, France began at a ferocious pace with Vincent Clerc bursting into space.
A string of unforced errors let Namibia off the hook but the rampant Les Bleus could not be contained for long and the first try arrived in the seventh minute. Perpignan centre David Marty brushed off four defenders with a bulldozing run and popped up as the linkman later in the same move to provide the scoring pass to Heymans.
A successful drop goal from Emile Wessels gave Namibia some respite but they were soon on the back foot and their was line breached again in the 10th minute. Clerc and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde probed down the right before Marty arrived to finish the move.
A crumbling scrum saw France awarded a penalty by referee Alain Rolland but they opted against the points, only to concede possession at the ensuing line-out. The Africans were already under intense pressure but their problems intensified in the 19th minute when Jacques Nieuwenhuis was sent off for a clothes-line challenge on Chabal.
Chabal was left spread-eagled for a couple of minutes and Rolland had no hesitation in showing a straight red card, which seemed a little harsh. To celebrate their numerical advantage, France then drove through the heart of the Africans' pack for their try with openside Thierry Dusautoir coming up with the ball.
A forward pass form Chabal cost France a fourth try in the 26th minute, after Clement Poitrenaud had found space bursting into the line. Despite their obvious superiority, France were coughing up the ball with alarming regularity - and the sloppy handling hampered their momentum.
When try number four arrived it was slightly fortuitous as Rolland missed a clear forward pass in the build-up, before lock Lionel Nallet crashed over. Namibia's back line was stretched to breaking point four minutes from the end of the half, and Clerc took advantage by jinking his way under the posts.
But there was still time for one more, Michalak confusing the Africans' defence with a show of hands before sending Nallet over for his second try. Poitrenaud should have gone over in the 47th minute, side-stepping his way to within a couple of metres of the line. But after doing the hard work, he tried to be too clever and was crunched by the Namibian cover.
But the Africans, ranked 24th in the world, conceded a knock-on - and France made mincemeat of their scrum, with number eight Julien Bonnaire touching down. Just two minute later, they bagged try number eight - Chabal gathering Elissalde's crossfield kick and crossing the whitewash.
Yannick Nyanga saw a half-gap and went for glory. But Kees Lensing was waiting for him, and the giant Natal prop produced a thunderous hit. A bulldozing run from Chabal which started on the halfway line was concluded when the powerful Sale lock-cum-back row crashed over.
Elissalde, who had been busy adding eight conversions, then get in on the act himself with a simple run-in which he improved. Namibia were in disarray, and Clerc took advantage of their disintegrating defence to run in try number 11. Clerc completed his hat-trick with confirmation coming from upstairs and the near-immaculate Elissalde slotted the conversion.
The Toulouse winger was denied a fourth by the television match official but Ibanez got the scoreboard ticking over again six minutes from time. Namibia finally scored a try a minute from time when Bratley Langenhoven intercepted Yannick Jauzion's pass with Tertius Losper converting.
France (40) 87
Namibia (3) 10
France: Poitrenaud, Clerc, Marty, Traille, Heymans, Michalak, Elissalde, Poux, Szarzewski, De Villiers, Chabal, Nallet,
Replacements: Ibanez, Mas, Pelous, Harinordoquy, Beauxis, Jauzion, Rougerie.
Namibia: Losper, Witbooi, Langenhoven, van Zyl, Bock, Wessels, van Tonder, Lensing, Horn, du Toit, Kazombiaze, Esterhuize,
Replacements: Meyer, Redelinghuys, Lindvelt, du Plessis, Jantjies, Botes, Africa.
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)