9 Oct 2011

France to play Wales in semis after beating England

6:50 pm on 9 October 2011

A mesmerising French team beat England 19-12 at Eden Park on Saturday night to reach the Rugby World Cup semi-finals and an appointment with Wales.

Just one week earlier the French were awful in their loss to Tonga; on Saturday they were superb against England.

The Welsh had earlier beaten Ireland 22-10 in a pulsating clash in Wellington.

In pool play, France were defeated by the All Blacks and then suffered a humiliating 19-14 loss to Tonga.

But on Saturday France was unrecognisable from the team which had been written off by many back home, as they tore into the English from the start, going in at halftime 16-0 ahead thanks to tries from Vincent Clerc and Maxime Medard, and two Dimitri Yachvili penalties.

Ben Foden gave England hope in the 55th minute when he burst through to score and Jonny Wilkinson converted, but a Francois Trinh-Duc drop-goal eight minutes before the end nudged France 19-7 ahead.

Mark Cueto scored for England for 19-12, but Toby Flood was unable to convert and the French held on for victory.

"We are just thoroughly disappointed," said England skipper Lewis Moody.

"We stuck at it in the second half and we had some opportunities but we weren't good enough today. Thoroughly disappointed for the squad and the fans but credit to France, they came out and performed when they needed to."

Sunday's quarter-finals feature Australia against defending champions South Africa in Wellington followed by New Zealand versus Argentina in Auckland.

Scorers

France: Tries: Vincent Clerc, Maxime Medard. Penalties: Dimitri Yachvili (2). Drop goals: Francois Trinh-Duc.

England: Tries: Ben Foden, Mark Cueto. Conversions: Jonny Wilkinson.

Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand).