RAF 13 – France 29
With the group stages now behind us, it was time for the knock out stages of the competition with RAF being pitted against France for the first of the IDRC quarter finals.
With the anthems out of the way, RAF started proceedings. Quickly regaining possession in the early stages – RAF kicked deep into the French red zone – an awkward bounce gifted RAF possession, to be denied by a handling error. With both teams eager to put their mark on the game, it quickly developed into a highly physical encounter.
Phil Thomas put the first points on the board for RAF after the French were caught offside. The game started to take causalties shortly afterwards, with two French players being stretchered off in quick succession. A first chance for France to even the score was denied by the left post, but shortly afterwards RAF tackle from offside gave chance a second kick at goal, which they duely scored. RAF 3 – 3 France.
The game continued with it’s intense tempo. The French broke out on numerous occasions, stopped by some rapid RAF defence. A break out by Daz Oliver took 3 defenders with him. France were penalised several times and RAF worked their way to towards the French line, but a break out by Anon led to RAF tackling from an offside position. Anon’s subsequent kick for goal took France into the lead.
With 29 minutes gone, France were penalised for not rolling away. Phil Thomas stepped up to even the score once again. RAF looked to build on momentum and a period of sustained pressure ensued, interrupted by another break out as Babaeu made a 50 metre dash, only to be brought down by his opposite number. RAF continued to attack, and finally broke through the French defence with a spectacular chip and chase placing the ball in the left hand corner which was jumped upon by Lloyd Owen. Conversion successful – RAF 13 – 6 France
With 30 seconds left of the first half, France kicked off. RAF were penalised with hands in the ruck, and Anon took the opportunity to narrow the gap going into half time. RAF 13 – 9 France.
France came charging out of the blocks in the second half. Attacking immediately, Fafoa charged down the left wing. The ball was recycled and Anon danced around the RAF defence to score under the posts. A simple kick at goal was easily converted. RAF 13 – 16 France. France continued to build on the lead after an obstruction. A huge kick from half way increased the lead to 6 points.
With the rain gaining in strength and both sides having being battered by the intensity of the first half, the pace of the game slowed. Numerous handling errors and mistakes in the break down created a stalemate that would last until the last 10 minutes of the game. With 10 minutes to go, another RAF infringement allowed France to cushion their lead. 13 – 22.
Realising the game was slipping away from them, RAF again went on the attack. Sustaining pressure, they edged to within touching distance of the French line, but still plagued with handling errors could not get over the threshold.
With only 2 minutes left on the clock and inside the RAF 22, France sealed the game in spectacular fashion. Reuchard kicked the ball across field to a wide open Rasaoreiti, who ran the ball into the corner. An RAF attempt for a consolation try was thwarted by a knock-on, and with the horn ringing out, France kicked the ball out of the park, sending themselves into the Quarter finals.
France will play against Fiji in the IDRC semi-finals at Twickenham Stoop on Friday (23 Oct). Tickets are now on sale
H Challenor, B Cook, R Hopkins, J McNally, D Oliver, A Tibbats, R Bell, M Tibbats, J Challenger, D Hankinson, L Owen, T Gardner, T Rock, L Queeley, P Thomas
Replacements: C Hales, M Tustin, J Hall, I Downsborough, R Craig, S Parker, M Clarke, J Tupua
T Fafoa, L Barbarel, Y Gallego, G Quesmel, R Takosi, A Robichon, J Abadie, T Veregarus, J Nagnani, D Anon, G Reuchaud, V Blatche, C Veau, D Rasaoreiti, R Babeau
Replacements: R Ruppez, F Carrere, N Captus, J Noudicz, T Dufau, C Jacob, C Depinrauso, N Naouas