return, Alivereti Raka offers the XV of France the victory against Tonga

The Blues have found the winger Clermont who is doing damage in the Top 14. Even if the second period against the Tongan was more difficult, the French team won and qualified for the quarter-finals.

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Alivereti Raka, balloon in hand, on October 6 in Kumamoto.
Alivereti Raka, balloon in hand, on October 6 in Kumamoto. Aaron Favila / AP

We had left him a little awkward. He is more skillful, full of confidence, at full speed. As time goes on, in four days. It is partly to the Fijian Alivereti Raka that the XV of France owes its tight success (23-21) on Tonga, Sunday, October 6, in Kumamoto. And so his qualification for the quarter-finals of the World Cup, even before facing England at the end of the first round.

Four days earlier, in Fukuoka, the winger was disappointed in the win (33-9) over the United States. Okay, he had also scored a try, on a pass at the foot of Camille Lopez. Okay, his speed had often taken the opponent by surprise. But for how many faults, how many balloons, how many approximate investments!

Relive the match against Tonga: France qualify laboriously for the quarter-finals

This time, Raka reassured himself against the Tongans. He created the danger, again. A great breakthrough, to start and offer the first test of the day to Virimi Vakatawa (6e minute); a Franco-Fijian achievement, given the origins of both players. Then a second essay left side, this time inscribed by his care, after a foot game for himself (32e).

A reference performance under the colors of the XV of France for the Clermont player, who made his selection debut only in August, in a friendly match, at 24, after having obtained his naturalization and to be recovered from an injury to a wrist.

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"The two Fijians have been extraordinary"

"The two Fijians have been extraordinary, they have been a threat to us"said the Tongan coach, Toutai Kefu, to designate in a press conference Raka and Vakatawa, the two naturalized players of the XV of France.

"I'm happy with my match, reacted, in English, the one who was elected man of the match. I'm happy to play next to another Fijian, we talk a lot, it's easier for us because we speak the same language. "

Above all, this Sunday, Raka seemed to play fairer. Less than before, less bad choice. What reassure him, and Jacques Brunel with. Despite the lack of rest, the coach had decided to start from one meeting to another. Precisely to tell him that he always had the trust of the staff »despite his performance "Mitigated" midweek. "It'll do him good to replay," assured the coach Thursday. History to confirm "Beautiful things" that he had still shown against the United States and especially to forget the "Small errors detrimental to its overall copy" from Wednesday.

In addition to Raka, who had already played the entire match on Wednesday, only three other players participated in both appointments as holders. There is the hooker Camille Chat, the second-line Paul Gabrillagues, but also the center Sofiane Guitoune, also author of an essay Sunday, after a first meeting on this side.

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Second difficult period

Precision, all the same. Sunday, Raka especially had the opportunity to find this famous " trust " in the first period. Much less in second, declining at the same time as the whole team, despite a new opportunity to test (65e). A simple statistic for the winger: 108 meters traveled ball in hand during the first forty minutes; 34 in the last 40 years.

The XV of France finished with only two points ahead (23-21) on Tonga, having led 17-7 at halftime. The kind of deceleration that could otherwise do more damage, Saturday, October 12, in Yokohama, when it comes to facing England.

The opportunity for Raka, perhaps, to claim a fifth selection. For Australia's Grant Doorey, Tonga's assistant coach, the question does not arise: "Every time he touches the ball, he creates something. We do not have a player like him on the team. In any case, someone so dangerous for the opponent, it must be played! "


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