First-half tries by Virimi Vakatawa and man-of-the-match Alivereti Raka were enough to secure the win for Les Bleus against a spirited Tongan side that competed throughout a tense encounter at the Kumamoto Stadium.

France players applaud fans after their match with Tonga - Kumamoto Stadium, Kumamoto, Japan - October 6, 2019.
France players applaud fans after their match with Tonga - Kumamoto Stadium, Kumamoto, Japan - October 6, 2019. (Reuters)

France qualified for the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday with a nail-biting 23-21 win against Tonga that sets up a winner-takes-all clash with England to top Pool C.

First-half tries by Virimi Vakatawa and man-of-the-match Alivereti Raka were enough to secure the win for Les Bleus against a spirited Tongan side that competed throughout a tense encounter at the Kumamoto Stadium.

Tonga topped the try-scoring count three-two against a French side that again produced a stop-start performance as they did in their first two games against Argentina and USA.

"We suffered again for yet another match," grumbled French coach Jacques Brunel.

"We started well, we missed a lot of chances to stretch the gap. We missed three or four chances and then we tightened up. There was tension, errors, we cannot manage the second half, especially at the start," added an unhappy Brunel.

In the end, it was three penalties by Romain Ntamack that got France through to a quarter-final likely against either Wales or Australia from Pool D — although Fiji still have a mathematical chance of a last-eight spot.

Source: AFP