France woes continue with Japan draw

By Christopher Devine 26 November 2017 1223
France woes continue with Japan draw

France ended a miserable November in dismal fashion as they were held to a 23-23 draw by Japan at the U Arena in Paris.

Having suffered defeats to New Zealand and South Africa, Les Bleus would have been expected to get back to winning ways against the hosts of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

However, Japan - who famously shocked South Africa at the 2015 World Cup - produced a superb display and a share of the spoils was the least they deserved.

The visitors, beaten in each of their previous three Tests against France, would have snatched victory had Yu Tamura converted the 73rd-minute try from Shintaro Ishihara that levelled the scores.

However, Japan's fly-half pulled his shot at goal wide and neither team could pick up further points in a frantic finale.

To make matters worse for France, scrum-half Baptiste Serin left the field limping heavily in the second half.

Tamura and Francois Trinh-Duc exchanged penalties early on before hooker Shota Horie went over on the left 23 minutes in to claim the game's first try for Japan.

A fine tackle from Harumichi Tatekawa denied Gabriel Lacroix at the other end, but France moved ahead on the stroke of half-time as Rabah Slimani powered over from close range following a second Trinh-Duc three-pointer.

Japan were soon back in front after the interval, Timothy Lafaele shrugging off some weak tackling to score.

Lacroix collected a wonderful crossfield kick from Trinh-Duc to restore France's lead, but the wing was then yellow-carded for tackling an opponent in the air and the home side also lost Serin to injury as Tamura got Japan back within two points.

Another Trinh-Duc penalty had France's lead back up to five by the time Lacroix returned, only for Ishihara to burrow over for a match-levelling score after great work from Japan's forwards.

Thankfully for France, Tamura was unable to add the extras.

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Christopher Devine