France and Tonga each had a player red carded following a punch-up at the beginning of the second half of what was an ill-tempered game in Le Havre. France came out 38-18 victors, avenging the 19-14 defeat to Tonga in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
France scored four tries to two and had the boot of Morgan Parra to slot two conversions and four penalties. Despite the comfortable win, France will need to go up a notch next weekend when they face the Springboks. Captain Thierry Dusautoir was satisfied with the result however.
“It’s pleasing. We’ve erased what happened at the World Cup and we can move on to something else,” he said. “We’re very happy but the black mark was losing Yoann (Maestri red card).”
Shortly before halftime Taniela Moa was yellow carded for elbowing hooker Dimitri Szarzewski, and France scored from the resultant scrum. They went into the break with a 21-6 lead.
Yoann Maestri and Sona Taumalolo then got in a tangle from the second half restart as a bit of contact led to punches being thrown, and a number of players joining in.
Referee Glen Jackson, upon referral with his touch judges and the TMO’s TV replay, felt that two red cards was the fairest way of dealing with it. Maestri was clearly dejected, and probably felt pretty hard done by as he appeared to take the first punch on the chin before retaliating.
We’ll get highlights from the match, and the other big ones this weekend, archived soon too.