France flatten England to face Wales in semis
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A stunning French side secured a place in the semi-finals Saturday after a 19–12 win against an English squad that never managed to threaten France’s early lead.
AFP - France beat England 19-12 for a stunning World Cup quarter-final victory at Eden Park here on Saturday.
France, making light of pool phase defeats by New Zealand and Tonga were, against all predictions, 16-0 ahead at half-time after tries from Vincent Clerc and Maxime Medard followed two penalties from Dimitri Yachvili.
Full-back Ben Foden gave England hope with a 53rd minute try converted by Jonny Wilkinson.
However, Francois Trinh-Duc extended France's lead to 12 points with a drop-goal.
But Mark Cueto's try three minutes from time, awarded after prolonged study by the video referee, gave England hope although Toby Flood's missed conversion meant Martin Johnson's men still needed a converted try to send the match into extra-time.
That proved beyond England and two-time losing finalists France went through to a semi-final against Wales, 22-10 winners over Ireland earlier on Saturday, at Eden Park on Saturday, October 15.
"We didn't want to go out like this," said France captain Thierry Dusautoir in a reference to their group stages losses. "We wanted to show our true value and we did that tonight.
"We are going to enjoy this victory... but now it's step-by-step."
England captain Lewis Moody, like Dusautoir a back-row forward, said France had raised their game when needed.
"We are just thoroughly disappointed," Moody, who was bidding to appear in a third successive World Cup final, said.
"France took their opportunities and we had a couple of lapses in defence and it cost us massively.
"It's thoroughly disappointing for the whole World Cup squad and the fans but credit to France, they came out and performed when they needed to."
England were also bested in the line-outs and Moody added: "That's Test match rugby, you've got to get that stuff right.
"It's a hard pill to swallow, we've got to go away and regroup."
Sunday's remaining quarter-finals see champions South Africa face Australia in Wellington, with hosts New Zealand playing Argentina in Auckland.
The winners of those matches will meet in the second semi-final at Eden Park on Sunday, October 16.