France are on the brink of reaching the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals after claiming their biggest-ever win with a 96-0 victory over Namibia in Pool A.

Damian Penaud scored a hat-trick, while Jonathan Danty, Charles Ollivon and Louis Bielle-Biarry all scored twice.

Antoine Dupont, Thibaud Flament, Baptiste Couilloud and Melvyn Jaminet also crossed before a penalty try took their total tally to 14 in Marseille.

The only French cause for concern was the loss of Dupont to injury.

The hosts’ captain was withdrawn during the second half following a head-on-head tackle by Johan Deysel, whose yellow card was upgraded to a red by the bunker-review system.

France head coach Fabien Galthie’s decision to keep his talisman on the field despite his side’s huge 54-point half-time advantage could be scrutinised if Dupont’s injury keeps him on the sidelines with the knockout stages looming.

Les Blues, who are top of Pool A with three wins from their opening three games, surpassed their previous biggest winning margin of 87-10 against Namibia in their last home World Cup in 2007 and will face Italy in their next fixture on 6 October in Lyon.

Namibia are rooted to the bottom of the table after suffering three heavy defeats, and face a final pool game against Uruguay on 27 September.

Ruthless France peaking at the right time

A much-changed France side overcame Uruguay without overly exerting themselves in their last game, but the Namibians felt the full force of their wrath here.

Heavyweights Dupont, Penaud and Flament were back in the side and they were quickly into their stride at Stade Velodrome.

Dupont showed all of his class to fire a cross-field kick with his right boot for the prolific Penaud to extend his try-scoring run to six consecutive Tests.

Centre Danty marked his return to the side after injury with the second following some neat work from Bielle-Biarry close to the touchline before Ollivon rounded off a flowing team move.

Penaud added his second moments later with an inside pass from a line-out move off the training field, before Danty doubled his own tally with a powerful finish from close range.

Simple run-ins for Flament and Dupont followed before the diminutive scrum-half turned provider with a perfectly weighted clip off his left boot for Bielle-Biarry to score without breaking stride.

That try handed France a 54-point lead and their biggest ever half-time advantage, but they were far from finished.

Dupont made way holding his face but it would not affect the outcome on the night as his replacement Couilloud crossed unopposed in the corner.

Penaud secured his hat-trick in the same corner before Namibia, who had been toothless in attack, intercepted a loose French pass and threatened to score their opening try, but Jaminet covered the kick through as France recycled the ball and Bielle-Biarry ran it straight back with interest.

An Ollivon dummy for try number 12 was followed by a neat backs’ move for Jaminet to finish off before a final penalty try ended the rout.

France are among the favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup next month and will face tougher challenges than the one posed by Namibia, but their ruthless attack sent a real message to the rest of the runners and riders.





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