France vs Romania RWC 2015 match report: Sofiane Guitoune scores twice as Les Blues record bonus point victory over The Oaks

Match report: France 38 Romania 11

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The Independent Online

It took until the final quarter for France's third and fourth tries by Sofiane Guitoune and Wesley Fofana to secure a widely anticipated bonus point, topped off by Gaël Fickou, as a night made for running rugby at the one-time playground of Jess Ennis and Mo Farah moved only in fits and starts.

No wonder the normally anodyne pictures beamed from the changing rooms at half-time revealed a mini rant by France’s coach, Philippe Saint-André, with water bottles being booted across the floor.

France, supposedly the great unpredictables, are the only team to have reached the semi-finals at least of the last five World Cups. Their task here was much more modest, to keep the pot boiling after last Saturday’s opening win over Italy, and ahead of the likely group decider with Ireland in Cardiff on the last day of the pool stage, 11 October, although the Irish have to get past Italy first.

 

Romania had a jaunty first half-hour, as their pack featuring five French-based forwards stole twice from Les Bleus’ line-out and won a scrum against the head. They also equalised Morgan Parra’s early penalty with a kick from the centre Florin Vlaicu after 19 minutes.

The shame of this, though, was that Vlaicu ought to have scored a try in the previous movement. Instead he was held up by France’s loose forward turned lock for the night, Bernard le Roux, after a hack through the French defence had led to a penalty, a line-out and half a dozen Romanian pick-and-goes.

It got worse for Vlaicu in the 25th minute, when he dragged a penalty wide to the left from head-on to the posts and 40 metres out.

Up at the other end, the score shifted rapidly from 3-3 to 17-3, with Romania short-handed after a yellow card to Paulica Ion, the prop, for entering a maul from the side. While Ion was off the field that will be the home of West Ham’s Irons one day, France ran in two tries, both of which were converted brilliantly by Parra from the right touchline.

First, Parra fed Guitoune for a skipping try on the short side of a line-out maul, then a multi-phase move with Brice Dulin and Uini Atonio making great gallops ended with Yannick Nyanga scoring at the corner.

Vlaicu’s second penalty just before half-time was scant reward for the effort put in by the Romanians, who had managed five victories in 24 World Cup pool matches before this.

Despite Romania drifting in defence, the French seemed unable to straighten their attacks in a way you would have thought that Fickou and Fofana would have relished.

The eventual trio of late tries were as much down to Romanian tiredness as anything, and still the underdogs were cheered by a try of their own seven minutes from the end – a clever effort for the fantastically hard-working flanker Valentin Ursache, shifting the point of attack away from a line-out drive.

They now continue their tour of London’s finer sporting spots, as the next opponents for Ireland at Wembley on Sunday.

Teams:

France: B Dulin; S Guitoune, G Fickou, W Fofana, N Nakaitaci; R Tales, M Parra (R Kockott, 67); V Debaty (E ben Arous, 67), D Szarzweski (capt; B Kayser, 23-31, 50), U Atonio (N Mas, 50), B le Roux, A Flanquart, Y Nyanga, F Ouedraogo, L Picamoles (D Chouly, 50).

Romania: C Fercu; M Lemnaru, P Kinikinilau, F Vlaicu, M Apostol (I Botezatu, 71); D Dumbrava (C Gal, 47), F Surugiu (V Calafeteanu, 75); M Lazar, O Turashvili (A Radoi, 59), P Ion (H Pungea, 71), V Poparlan (O Tonita, 67), J van Heerden, V Ursache (H Pungea, 36-40), V Lucaci (S Burcea, 76), M Macovei (capt).

Referee: J Peyper (South Africa).

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