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HomeSportsHosts France Maintain Winning Rugby World Cup Start With Hard-Earned Victory

Hosts France Maintain Winning Rugby World Cup Start With Hard-Earned Victory

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BY AGENCIES

A much-changed France side overcame a spirited Uruguay outfit in Lille to maintain their winning start at their home World Cup.

The hosts, who made 12 changes to the side who beat New Zealand, took the lead with a Melvyn Jaminet penalty.

Uruguay hit back through a Nicolas Freitas try before Antoine Hastoy crossed for France.

Baltazar Amaya threatened a Uruguay comeback but Peato Mauvaka and Louis Bielle-Biarrey sealed the win.

A second victory in as many games moved France a step closer to the quarter-finals as Uruguay began their campaign with their best result against a tier one nation at the World Cup.

Les Blues resume their tour of the country against Namibia in Marseille in their next Pool A match on 21 September, while the South Americans face Italy in Nice the night before.

Uruguay did not play in the opening round of fixtures and were huge underdogs against the side who are tipped by many to win the tournament for the first time.

Anthony Jelonch made his return from an anterior cruciate ligament injury sustained in February to captain France as Fabien Galthie made wholesale changes.

Jaminet nudged the hosts into an early lead from the tee but it was Uruguay who got the game’s first try.

Freitas was the beneficiary when Felipe Etcheverry’s cross-field kick was palmed on to his boot by Jaminet before the wing claimed the loose ball and dotted down.

France hit back through Hastoy, who darted through a gap in the Uruguay defence to score – prompting relaxed smiles from the hosts as they celebrated, and an expectation that it would be the first of many tries.

But France were reduced to 14 players momentarily when Romain Taofifenua was penalised for a no-arms tackle direct to the head of Santiago Arata.

There was a feeling around the Stade Pierre-Mauroy he would not return to the field and the bunker would upgrade his yellow card to a red, but he would later rejoin the action because of the mitigation of Sekou Macalou’s involvement in the tackle.

With Taofifenua off the field, Uruguay came closest to scoring the next try as Etcheverry crossed the whitewash from a wrap-around backs move, only for it to be ruled out for a block in the build-up by Tomas Inciarte.

Their persistence would pay dividends after the break, however.

Amaya pierced through the French defence with a sniping run from deep to move Uruguay to within a point, following Etcheverry’s conversion, before their hard work was undone moments later.

The Uruguay fly-half’s attempted clearance hit his own player, and as the ball looped up, Mauvaka scooped it up and carried it over the line.

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