France 47-21 Japan, Rugby World Cup, September 10
Lievremont calls for French improvement
ESPNscrum Staff
September 10, 2011
Japan's James Arlidge takes the plaudits, France v Japan, North Harbour Stadium, North Shore City, New Zealand, September 10, 2011
Lievremont has called for improvement while Japan will be pleased with their performance © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: John Kirwan | Marc Lievremont
Tournaments/Tours: Rugby World Cup
Teams: France | Japan

France coach Marc Lievremont conceded that while he was happy to record an opening win over Japan he has much to ponder ahead of their next World Cup clash.

France were pushed all the way by the Brave Blossoms with John Kirwan's side reducing the deficit to 25-21 in the second-half while firmly in the ascendancy. Although Les Bleus eventually ran in six tries, prevailing 47-21, it is his side's performance in the early stages of the second-half which will give Lievremont cause for concern.

"I got a victory, which was the most important thing for me, and then I wanted a consistent game but in this regard I wasn't too happy," said France coach Lievremont. "I wasn't happy even at half-time.

"I wasn't happy at the beginning of the game, we weren't ambitious enough. We didn't seem to be playing with a strong ambition. We had strong scrums ... but we weren't playing together."

But France's injury woes will do little to improve Lievremont's mood. Fly-half David Skrela (shoulder) and centre Fabrice Estebanez (back) left the field with injuries during the second-half and Lievremont conceded that injuries could be severe saying: "We have a bit of bad news as we have a potentially serious injury with David Skrela and maybe even Estebanez so it wasn't the best evening for us."

And on a day when Romania pushed Scotland to their limits, Kirwan's underdogs also shone on Antipodean soil. With James Arlidge proving to be the catalyst at the centre of everything which Japan did well, Kirwan will be optimistic of achieving his pre-tournament aim of two wins from their four pool matches.

"I think it was a positive evening out and we just need to keep working hard," Kirwan said. "It was important to play well and show the world we are a very competent football team.

"We will be disappointed tomorrow as there were times when we could have done a lot more. We had them under the pump and they were making uncharacteristic errors. We just didn't quite take it away."

France now have just over a week until their next match against Canada while Japan have the monumental task of taking on hosts New Zealand on September 16 in Hamilton.

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