LYON, France (AP) — Damian Penaud extended his try-scoring streak to seven matches as Rugby World Cup host France blew apart Italy 60-7 to reach the quarterfinals in style on Friday.
France won Pool A ahead of New Zealand and will likely meet defending champion South Africa in the last quarterfinal next weekend. New Zealand will probably have to play top-ranked Ireland.
“Four games, four wins. This was an elimination match for us, we had no room to make mistakes,” France captain and flanker Charles Ollivon said. “We wanted to play with intensity and we did, we kept it up for 80 minutes.”
The Ireland-Scotland match on Saturday at Stade de France will determine how Pool B shakes out and confirm the quarterfinal opposition.
Italy was smashed by New Zealand 96-17 last week and was pumped up to rebound against its neighbor. But France, even without injured linchpin Antoine Dupont, was ready after a two-week break and took less than two minutes to score the first of its eight tries in a hugely impressive performance.
Les Tricolores equalled their highest score against Italy from 1967 and achieved the greatest margin ever. Only eight months ago in the Six Nations, France won 29-24.
“We approached the match in the best possible way, with the ball, the score, a lot of defensive doggedness when they had possession, good rucks,” France coach Fabien Galthie said. “Then, the problem for us, the French, the L
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