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Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Onwards go France, febrile, jumpy, part-brilliant, part-bonkers, the Jekyll and Hyde of the global game, heading towards a last-weekend showdown with England in Tokyo with little or no consistency in their game.
Even a shuffling of the deck, with 12 changes made for this fixture to conserve energy for Sunday’s match against Tonga, made little difference. This lot were just as erratic as the front-liners who had flip-flopped their way to a narrow, last-gasp win over Argentina on the opening weekend.
England had made light work of beating the Eagles last week in Kobe and even though there was far more resolve and bite in the play of the USA, there was simply little to persuade onlookers that France have managed to cure themselves of their age-old wishy-washy habits. It took three tries in the final 14 minutes, a real rolling back of the stone from the seeming dead with the USA within three points at that juncture at 12-9, to ease the jitters and to claim the all-important bonus point with Baptiste Serin’s try in the 70th minute.
And yet it had all looked so different at the start as black clouds gathered and rain briefly fell. Never mind Typhoon Mitang that had flirted with the Japan coastline and put the match in jeopardy, France were intent on whipping up a storm of their own making with Yoann Huget scoring within six minutes, running free, looking sharp
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