Damian Penaud propels France to a 60-7 bonus-point win over Italy at OL Stadium.
Mastercard Player of the Match Gregory Alldritt said: “The first step is done. We are going to enjoy the weekend because it was a tough game today. We will do our recovery and this weekend and then prepare for the quarter-final.”
France head coach Fabien Galthié said: “We took on the match in the best possible way, with the ball, the score, a lot of defensive doggedness when they had possession, good rucks, which enabled us to play with the ball for the first 20 minutes and to kill the match off in 20 minutes. Then, the problem for us, the French, the Latins, is that we relax a little, and play less accurately. But, we finished the game with 60 points. It’s our sixth game in this cycle against Italy and it’s our best score.”
Les Bleus captain Charles Ollivon said: “Four games, four wins. This was an elimination match for us, we had no right to make mistakes. We wanted to play with intensity and we did, and we kept it up for 80 minutes. It’s very positive and sets us up for the next stage. We really want to be there.
“We’re prepared for it, we’re working for it. We know it’s going to be tough, but we want to take everyone with us. We’re going to leave it all out there.”
Scrum-half Maxime Lucu paid tribute to the home fans as France’s attention now turns to their quarter-final against either Ireland, South Africa or Scotland.
“We have to find out who we’re playing,” Lucu said. “We’ll be keeping a close eye on that. We need to recuperate, and we’ll see you next Sunday. It’s good to have the competition back home. The stadium is packed – 58,000 people, it’s just great. We need to enjoy it a little because we’ve been under a lot of pressure over the past 10 days.”
Crowley said of the result: “We gave away a lot of penalties early on and then we just didn’t get any momentum because our breakdown work wasn’t good enough. The interpretation sometimes left a bit to be desired but that’s the way it was. They were just too physical, too powerful for us.”
“These boys, they’d die for you,” Crowley said of his players. “They’ve got a lot of pride. I just hope they start getting treated with a bit more respect after this. For the next World Cup cycle there will be a lot of players with 50 or 60 test matches by then so that will be good.”
Second-row Federico Ruzza added: “At the beginning of the match we weren’t physical enough and we conceded too many penalties so it was easy for them to get into our 22.
“In the last match we showed a much better performance. Some things didn’t work. We have to ask ourselves many questions. We have to do better. It is difficult now. We have to learn to be better.” – WORLD RUGBY