France routs Italy to reach Rugby World Cup quarterfinals in style
LYON, France (AP) — Damian Penaud extended his try-scoring streak to seven matches as Rugby World Cup host France blew apart Italy 60-7 to reach the quarterfinals in style on Friday.
France topped Pool A ahead of New Zealand and will likely meet defending champion South Africa in the last quarterfinal next weekend. New Zealand will probably have to play top-ranked Ireland.
How Pool B shakes out depends on the Ireland-Scotland match on Saturday at Stade de France.
Italy was smashed by New Zealand 96-17 last week and was pumped up to rebound against its neighbor. But France, even without injured linchpin Antoine Dupont, was ready after a two-week break and took less than two minutes to score the first of its eight tries in a hugely impressive performance.
Les Tricolores equalled their highest score against Italy from 1967 and achieved the greatest margin ever. Only eight months ago in the Six Nations, France won 29-24.
Of course, Penaud got the first try, off his wing. Following pick-and-goes from hooker Peato Mauvaka, flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert and fullback Thomas Ramos combined to send the right winger into the left corner.
After Ramos converted and added a penalty, Penaud turned provider with an unexpected cross-field kick for Louis Bielle-Biarrey to score in the left corner.
Jalibert and Penaud combined to send Ramos over for the third try, and brilliant improvisation from Jalibert saw him kick off-balance to Penaud in the right corner for France’s fourth try.
Penaud’s brace for six in the tournament took him past Vincent Clerc on France's all-time list to 35 tries. Only the great Serge Blanco has more on 38.
Italy prop Simone Ferrari had a try disallowed after he was harshly penalized for a chest-high tackle on Maxime Lucu — playing for the absent Dupont — in the buildup.
France led 31-0 at halftime, and took only seven minutes in the second half to resume the try-fest.
Jalibert helped himself when he darted in from close range from flanker Charles Ollivon's pass; Mauvaka got try No. 6, and Jalibert's looped pass put replacement Yoram Moefana into the right corner.
At least the Italians sent off departing coach Kieran Crowley , who previously coached Canada and the All Blacks, with a consolation try when flanker Manuel Zuliani got over the line with 10 minutes left.
But there was still time for Moefana to barrel over from another Jalibert pass.
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