If you’d backed the underdog on the handicap so far in this tournament, you’d have done well. There are generally few surprising results in RWC games but a gradual levelling of standards has led to closer games. Japan were only four points down at one stage in the second half and got the crowd right behind them. France pulled away towards the end but failed to convince for long periods of the game.
The most astonishing incident of the game concerned Skrela, who was introduced on 50 minutes and substituted 10 minutes later after fumbling a perfect pass under no pressure. The Mole expressed surprise at Skrela’s inclusion in the pre-tournament France preview but was amazed to see Lièvremont get up from his chair in frustration at Skrela’s error. While reports suggested a shoulder injury, the Mole’s complete lack of medical expertise allowed him to diagnose shattered confidence as the true ailment.
It was difficult to know what France were trying to do for most of the game. They seem to have one of the best scrums in the competition and Lakafia carried well at 8 but France seemed to lack balance and poise. They were at their best when Morgan Parra was on the pitch as outhalf and looked a bit short of puff towards the end of the game. If France fail to regain their composure and decide on a coherent gameplan, they will struggle against Tonga in the final pool game. The same was said about England at the stage in the last tournament, there is still time.