Tonga shocked France 19-14 in a Pool A match at the Wellington Regional Stadium on Saturday.
France showed little during a match dominated territorially by Tonga, with so many promising moves snuffed out by keen Tongan tackling or poor decision-making by the French.
The French did score a try in the final seconds to bring up the final score, but it was too little too late for Les Bleus in the match. But in gaining a bonus point, France do go through to the quarter-finals.
Tonga had scored their only try of the match in the 27th minute when scrum-half Taniela Moa breached the France backline with a fine run.
From the resultant tackle-ball Morath kicked diagonally for Sukanaivalu Hufanga on the opposite wing, who collected, skirted the touchline in a French tackle, but managed to regain composure and dot down. Morath converted to give Tonga a 10-6 lead.
In the 35th minute France were penalised for offside and Morath increased Tonga’s lead to 13-6, which was the half-time score and France were running out of ideas.
Tonga went 19-9 ahead in the in the 71s minute when Morath succeeded with a penalty kick to at that time to remove France from bonus point territory.;
Tonga try-scorer Hufanga was given a yellow card by referee Steve Walsh two minutes from half-time when he lifted Vincent Clerc in a tackle and dumped him on his back.
French mistakes were rife in the second spell. Dimitri Yachvili missed touch with a defensive penalty early on and such was the Tonga dominance, it took seven minutes for the French to get outside their territory.
Yachvili made some amends in the 50th minute with a successful penalty for a late tackle by Alisona Taumalolo to close the gap to 13-9
The second tip tackle of the match saw France replacement Fabrice Estebanez given a yellow card and from the resultant penalty Morath put Tonga up 16-9 with 15 minutes to play.
Les Bleus had wasted little time getting on the scoreboard at the beginning of the match, with Dimitri Yachvili slotting a penalty within the first minute as Tonga were caught offside.
Tonga equalised in the seventh minute through a penalty from Kurt Morath after France did not release the ball.
After giving up territory for some time after the equalising penalty, Tonga finally broke out of their half and were immediately awarded a penalty for French hands in the ruck, but Morath failed to give Tonga the lead with the penalty.
From the 20th minute France began to show some flair on attack and Tonga were perhaps lucky they were penalised for being offside and didn’t concede a try in the 23rd minute. Yachvili kicked the simple penalty to put France ahead 6-3.Like Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.