France scores 43-31 upset win to face Australia in final

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France scored a sensational 43-31 World Cup victory over hot favorite New Zealand on Sunday to reach the final against Australia.

France scored a sensational 43-31 World Cup victory over hot favorite New Zealand on Sunday to reach the final against Australia.

The French overturned a 24-10 deficit early in the second half with three tries and seven accurate kicks from fly half Christophe Lamaison after the All Blacks, the 1/20 favorite to win the game, appeared to be cruising to victory.

Lamaison collected a full house of scores with a try, four conversions, two drop goals and three penalties for a person tally of 28 points. Wingers Christophe Dominici and Phillipe Bernard-Salles and center Richard Dourthe also crossed the All Blacks line.

Jonah Lomu collected two more tries to take his Rugby World Cup record to 15 but was only joined by Jeff Wilson in the final minute.

"We just made too many mistakes," said New Zealand coach John Hart. "We put ourselves under huge pressure and the French capitalized. Under pressure we didn't respond and instead of consolidating we got a little looser and threw passes when we shouldn't have done."

Lamaison kicked the French ahead with a 40-meter penalty after only two minutes before Kiwi fly half Andrew Mehrtens hit the post and then missed another long range kick.

The All Blacks fly half finally find the target from close range in the ninth minute and gave his team the lead in the 18th minute with another kick.

It came after French fullback Xavier Garbajosa had been shown the yellow card for a professional foul, holding onto Wilson, after he had stopped the New Zealand fullback's charge to the line.

The French impressed with their enterprising play and the game came alight with two sensational tries in the space of four minutes, one for each team.

Collecting the ball near the halfway line on the left wing French winger Chistophe Dominici darted through a gap in the All Blacks defense and then went on a weaving run past three tacklers before Christian Cullen finally caught up with him and brought him down three meters short of the posts.

But the French recycled the ball quickly and had a double overlap on the right with Lamaison going over for the score.

His conversion gave the French a 10-6 lead but Mehrtens cut that to one point with a penalty.

Then came Lomu's amazing first score.

The 6-foot-5 (1.96 meter) winger had to stoop to take a very low pass but recovered to burst past his first two tacklers. Then five more Frenchmen arrived to try and stop the giant winger but Lomu managed to stay upright, shrug them all off and charge over the line to take his record of World Cup tries to 14 as the All Blacks led 14-10.

The French hit back again and Garbajosa, Dominici and Olivier Magne all went close to scoring tries. Magne appeared very unlucky when he raced down the right and kicked ahead and there was considerable doubt whether it was an All Black who touched the ball first after it had crossed the line.

But the French began punishing themselves by giving away too many penalties - 12 against two by New Zealand in the first half and, although they were making more tryscoring opportunities, they trailed 17-10 at half time after Mehrtens kicked his fourth penalty of the game.

Lomu's second try of the game came five minutes into the second half after Lamaison's kick ahead went straight to Wilson 40 meters from the line.

The fullback swapped three passes with the winger who then went on another trademark weaving run past four tacklers before crossing the line for his 24th try in 37 international appearances. Mehrtens kicked the conversion and the All Blacks led 24-10.

But the French wouldn't lie down.

Lamaison kicked two drop goals in the space of two minutes and then two penalties to cut the lead to two points with 25 minutes to go.

Two minutes later, scrum half Fabien Galthie kicked ahead to the corner and the bounce eluded both Mehrtens and Taine Randell but went kindly for Dominici who gathered it and raced to the line for the second French try. Lamaison's conversion made it 29-22 to France.

That was turned into 36-24 when some great French forward play pushed the All Blacks back to within five meters of their line. Lamaison got clean possession and kicked ahead and Richard Dourthe won the race to the ball ahead of Wilson and Tana Umaga. Lamaison again kicked the conversion and the French led by 12 points with 20 minutes to go.

Another try came six minutes from the end when Lamaison kicked ahead from deep in his own half and Magne and Bernard-Salles chased it. Magne kicked ahead again and Bernard-Salles got to the ball before Wilson. Lamaison again converted and the French led by 19 points.

Wilson crossed the French line in the final minute and Mehrtens converted for the final score of the game.


France - Xavier Garbajosa, Philippe Bernat-Salles, Richard Dourthe, Emile Ntamack, Chistophe Dominici, Christophe Lamaison, Fabien Galthie, Christophe Juillet, Olivier Magne, Marc Lievremont, Fabien Pelous, Abdel Benazzi, Franck Tournaire, Raphael Ibanez, Cedric Souette.

New Zealand - Jeff Wilson, Tana Umaga, Christian Cullen, Alama Ieremia, Jonah Lomu; Andrew Mehrtens, Byron Kelleher, Taine Randell, Josh Kronfeld, Reuben Thorne, Robin Brooke, Norm Maxwell, Craig Dowd, Anton Oliver, Carl Hoeft.

Referee - Jim Fleming, Scotland