France 34-12 Greece: French triumph on historic night

James Gordon
France 34-12 Greece

France proved too strong for Greece in their historic meeting at Doncaster on Monday night.

The founders of the World Cup beat the nation playing at the World Cup for the first time 34-12.

Laurent Frayssinous will have taken some positives ahead of the clash with England at the weekend, watching his side open up a 20-0 half time lead.

They wobbled at times in the second half, losing their composure amidst some pressure from the Greeks, who registered their first ever try shortly before the hour mark.

It was a competitive game between two sides who will undoubtedly be underdogs against England and Samoa in the coming weeks.

Some may have hope that France could upset Samoa at Warrington, but if this proves to be their only win of the tournament, then they can see it as a job well done.

Jordan Dezaria broke the deadlock on nine minutes, powering over from close range as the French flexed their muscles. That field position had come off a Greece 20/40 attempt, such was the territorial dominance of Frayssinous’ men early doors.

The hit and miss kicking of the mercurial Tony Gigot meant they couldn’t quite take advantage of the field position, while for Greece lively full-back Chaise Robinson was causing a few problems on the counter.

It was Robinson’s break through the middle that broke down that saw Morgan Escare return the ball with extras and from that set 20 metres out, France were awarded a penalty for a high tackle by Nicholas Flocas which they duly converted to lead 8-0.

Two tries in five minutes then stamped France’s authority on the contest. Arthur Mourgue took on the kicking duties and his awkward grubber wasn’t dealt with in-goal and Gigot managed to ground it just shy of the dead ball line.

A late tackle on kicker Mourgue on 35 minutes resulted in a penalty from which Benjamin Jullien took on a simple Alrix Da Costa pass and with both those tries converted, France led 20-0 at the break.

But Greece’s second half efforts were best summed up by the fact France had to take a settling penalty on 67 minutes.

Although Mathieu Laguerre’s break finished in a try for Mourgue by the posts to stretch France’s lead to 26-6, the next 10 minutes or so would belong to the Greeks, cheered on by a decent following within the 4,182 crowd at the Eco Power Stadium.

The biggest cheer of the night went up for what the crowd thought was Greece’s first try, only for the referee to correctly rule it out for a nock on.

But on 56 minutes, they got what they wanted as Jordan Meads’ well placed kick to the left corner was touched down by Siteni Taukamo.

Taukamo seared down the left flank moments later, opting to kick rather than back himself against Escare, for another try chance as Greece enjoyed a real purple patch.

France were penalised for a shot clock violation off a drop out as they wobbled, and that no doubt will have prompted the instruction from the sideline to go for a simple penalty in front of the sticks when they were presented with the opportunity with 13 minutes to play.

It mattered little in reality, but Greece may have taken it as a small victory – even if they did concede a further try through Jullien.

And they saved the best til last. In the final minute, Meads picked out Nicholas Mougios down the left and he weaved in and out to race in from 40 metres.

FT: France 34-12 Greece

France: Escare, Romano, Langi, Laguerre, Yaha, Mourgue, Gigot, Dezaria, Da Costa, Belmas, Jullien, Seguier, Garcia. Subs: Pelissier, Sangare, Le Cam, Goudemand.

Tries: Dezaria, Gigot, Jullien 2, Mourgue. Goals: Mourgue 6.

Greece: Robinson, Taukamo, Constantinou, Mougios, Mitsias, Ilias, Meads, Tuliatu, Mamouzelos, Sell, Zampetides, Flocas, Magoulias. Subs: Kambos, Gal, Nianiakas, Dardamanis.

Tries: Taukamo, Mougios. Goals: Ilias.