The XV of France signed a tenth victory in a row, this Saturday against Japan in Tokyo (15-20), but the Blues suffered more than last week and scared themselves until the end.
Last week, in the heat and humidity of Aichi, the XV of France struggled in the first half (13-13) before finally playing their rugby against Japan and winning 23-42. This Saturday, in the heat (30°c) and humidity of the Olympic stadium in Tokyo, Fabien Galthié’s men struggled throughout the match, but still managed to win 15-20. Even without shining, the Blues sign a tenth victory in a row and thus end a perfect season, which notably saw them beat New Zealand in the fall and win the 6 Nations Tournament with a Grand Slam during the winter. The French coach had chosen to make only one change compared to the first match, by establishing Max Spring in place of Melvyn Jaminet at the back, within a team, let us recall, deprived of the finalists of the Top 14 and many frames. The young Racing 92 player (21) did not have the best possible first cap, since it was on his side that the first two Japanese tests arrived in the first half. But he recovered well in the second, with some well-felt kicks and breakthroughs.
As in the first match, it was the French who quickly scored the first try. From the 8th minute, Matthis Lebel found himself at the conclusion on the left side of a nice tricolor movement, with in particular a decisive skipped pass from Virimi Vakatawa (0-7). But like last week, the Japanese took very little time to react. Three minutes after Lebel’s try, Ryohei Yamanaka crossed the line in turn, after a quick raise, a chistera from Dylan Riley and several passes on the left side against the overwhelmed French (5-7). Sung-Sin Lee gave the Brave Blossoms the advantage on penalty (8-7), then in the 39th, Yamanaka offered his second try of the evening, almost identical to the first, with small spaces found on the left side and a big breakthrough from Michael Leitch (15-7, mt).
🇯🇵 Japan 15 – 20 France 🇫🇷
🎥 All the tests of the second test match of the French team against Japan (in 4 minutes) it’s here ⤵️https://t.co/JDjdQwFWgI
— TF1 (@TF1) July 9, 2022
Couilloud and Moefana, the saviors
The Blues hadn’t shown much in that first half, and the start of the second wasn’t brilliant either. Maxime Lucu and Matthieu Jalibert took advantage of the opponent’s indiscipline to put France at -2 (15-13) per hour of play. And while Sekou Macalou had come very close to the try in the 66th, it was finally Baptiste Couilloud who rewarded the good French period with a try in the 71st, which he did all by himself, recovering the ball from Yoan Tanga’s feet in a scrum at 25m, and spinning between the posts (15-20). The Blues got a final scare five minutes from the siren when Tevita Tatafu scored with full force but the try was disallowed on video as Yoram Moefana pulled off a huge save to push him forward in the in-goal. It is therefore a small victory of five points for the XV of France. It’s not her finest of the year, but she at least has the merit of continuing the unbeaten streak. Next meeting: against Australia, South Africa and again Japan in November. A tougher opposition, but all French executives should be back.