Rugby World Cup hosts France secured their spot in the quarter-finals with a commanding victory over Italy, earning them the top position in Pool A. Despite missing Antoine Dupont, France dominated against an Italian team that faced elimination from the tournament after suffering two substantial defeats, including one against New Zealand. Damian Penaud scored twice as France displayed resilience and showed no signs of succumbing to an upset.
France cruised into the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals with a hammering of Italy in front of a passionate home crowd in Lyon.
Any hopes Italy had of denying the host nation a place in the knockout stages were obliterated during a stunning start to the game that saw France run in three early tries.
The high tempo and sublime skills of the French proved too much for a sloppy Italian side who struggled to click even at set-pieces.
France needed no invitation to attack, but took full advantage of Italy’s generosity, with Damien Penaud scoring twice in the first half along with tries from Louis Bielle-Biarrey and Thomas Ramos, to secure a bonus point before the break.
And the tries kept on coming after the interval as France delivered a display that will raise home hopes that they can lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time.
The tournament hosts will now face one of South Africa, Ireland or Scotland in the quarter-finals in what promises to be a knockout game for the ages.
TALKING POINT – WHO CAN BEAT THIS FRENCH TEAM?
France started their campaign with victory over New Zealand and showed in this demolition of Italy that they are peaking at just the right time for the knockout stages.
Huge in the tight, aggressive at the breakdown and phenomenal with the ball in hand, France have a bit of everything and nobody will want to face them.
The home advantage will surely help France against whichever team they end up facing in the final eight and it’s going to take something special to stop them marching towards the final in Paris.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – GRÉGORY ALLDRITT
A number of players could have won the Player of the Match award, but with 20 carries and 84 metres made, France’s number eight was at the heart of his team’s all-action effort.
Penaud’s exceptional ball-handling skills shone brightly during the night, but what truly stood out was France’s defensive intensity and unwavering strength, with Alldritt exemplifying this aspect perfectly.