Rugby: Laporte plays down World Cup hype after Wales win

27th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

Rugby: Laporte plays down World Cup hype after Wales win

CARDIFF, Aug 26, 2007 (AFP) - France coach Bernard Laporte did his best to keep talk of a World Cup triumph on home soil in check after his side completed their preparations ahead of the start of next month's showpiece tournament with a thumping 34-7 win against Wales at the Millennium Stadium here Sunday.

This victory, which came after back-to-back successes against England where the world champions failed to score a try, cemented France's position as the best-placed northern hemisphere side to lift the Webb Ellis trophy.

Not only did they outscore Wales by four tries to one, with a perfomance that owed as much to the running game long associated with French teams as Laporte's desire for forward dominance, but they did so with a side showing 11 changes to the starting line-up that beat England 22-9 in Marseille last week.

"We don't care about talk of being favourites. The important thing is what we tell each other," said Laporte.

France raced into an early 17-0 lead which all but put the result beyond doubt.

Their first try featured a superb handling move which led to a score for lock Jerome Thion and scrum-half Pierre Mignoni also got on the scoresheet following Imanol Harinordoquy's charge down of Dwayne Peel's kick.

Wales scored a try, on the stroke of half-time, through fly-half James Hook but were kept pointless in the second half where Aurelien Rougerie and replacement hooker Sebastien Bruno both crossed the Welsh line.

France fly-half Lionel Beauxis kicked 12 points with substitute Jean-Baptiste Elissalde adding the extras for Bruno's last minute score.

"What is re-assuring is that despite the changes, the players played with the same spirit. But to win the World Cup we need to do it again from September 7 (when France play their opening match against Argentina).

"It was difficult out there but our defence was excellent and there was a real desire to move the ball, especially in the second 20 minutes of the first-half."

Defeat for Wales was made worse by captain Gareth Thomas having some 20 stitches inserted into wounds above his eye and under his chin, although coach Gareth Jenkins insisted the injuries were not serious.

This loss meant Wales had won just four of their 16 matches under Jenkins and the Llanelli boss said France's ruthlessness had been the difference on this occasion.

"We had a lot of creative effort but not the clinical edge we need to be able to score tries against sides likes France. That's something we have to grow into our game," said Jenkins.

"They've scored 34 points and taken that out of half-a-dozen chances."

Wales came into this match on the back of a 27-20 win against Argentina, a team renowned for their aggressive approach. But Jenkins said: "The boys felt the physicality today (Sunday) was really up a level.

"We're hugely disappointed but it's not the World Cup yet."

And there were some words of consolation for Wales from Laporte.

"We knew we had to be vigilant in defence, much more so than against England. Wales were true to their traditions of playing the ball," said the coach.

AFP

Subject: French news

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