France Make History in 2022
With a 35-17 victory over Japan, France completed an undefeated Autumn Nations Series and perfected 2022 thanks to destructive Damian Penaud and a touch of magic from Matthieu Jalibert.
Prior to this game, Australia and South Africa faced-off France in tougher contests in November, and they had to be at their best against the Brave Blossoms, who trailed by just 11 points for most of the second half.
Penaud scored in each half, while Jalibert gave France a boost from the substitutes' bench during a quiet second half at Toulouse's Stadium to send them home with 10 victories in a row for the year.
Prior to kickoff, there was a torrential downpour, but Japan was not about to allow the weather change their game plan.
In less than a minute, No. 8 Kazuki Himeno made a dashing run that almost gave the visitors a dream start after seeing a hole in the French defensive line.
They were held up, although illegally, and showed initiative by choosing to go for touch from wide instead of settling for three points. However, they were made to regret that choice when possession was lost from the lineout on a day when they had few and far between scoring opportunities.
France quickly settled into a rhythm, although their first score was relatively accidental. Penaud was located by a brilliant grubber kick by Romain Ntamack, who continued to kick toward the Japanese line.
Ryohei Yamanaka was unable to catch the bouncing ball with one hand, which allowed Penaud to swoop in from behind and dot down as the dead-ball line drew near.
He moved up to joint-tenth on the list of France's all-time try scorers with that score, which was his second of the Autumn Nations Series.
Even though his conversion kick was wide to the right, Thomas Ramos, who entered Round 3 as the highest points-scorer, quickly extended France's lead with a pair of penalties.
Ntamack put his team under strain by choosing to run the ball out when he could have been better suited kicking downfield. Japan subsequently scored their first points through Lee Seung-Sin.
Possibly still shaken up from his poor choice from a few minutes earlier, the fly-half, who was playing in his hometown, booted out on the full at the start of the second half.
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