PREVIEW: France v Samoa

Fri, 11 Nov 2016 08:35
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: France coach Guy Noves has backed continuity as his team bid to extend their winning streak over Samoa to four when they clash on Saturday.

With the exception of Baptiste Serin, who missed out to Maxime Machenaud at scrumhalf, Noves has plumped for the heart of the France team that routed Argentina 27-0 in the second Test of the summer Tour to South America.

Seven of the starting forwards from that impressive victory over the Pumas in Tucuman will play at Toulouse's Muncipal Stadium.

Led by hooker Guilhem Guirado, there were few doubts about naming Jefferson Poirot at prop in the absence of Eddy Ben Arous, while veteran lock Yoann Maestri and No.8 Louis Picamoles form the backbone of a formidable pack.

"We're trying to work in a continuous manner," the coach said, with games against Australia and New Zealand to follow.

"Those players [present in Argentina] made efforts, it's normal to reward them, to show them this confidence they showed us is a two-way thing.

"There's a form of cohesion which has been found and we want to see if they're capable of repeating that type of performance."

Noves picked Francois Trinh-Duc to accompany Machenaud at halfback, with utility player Jean-Marc Doussain named on the bench.

Behind Trinh-Duc, who has been indifferent for Toulon since signing last season from Montpellier, there is only one player who toured Argentina, Remi Lamerat, who will join up in midfield with Clermont teammate Wesley Fofana. The latter finally finds his true position having been named on the wing for two Six Nations games last season before being injured.

The back three sees the recall of Yoann Huget, injured in the first match of the World Cup, alongside Fiji-born Virimi Vakatawa and naturalised South African Scott Spedding.

Samoa coach Alama Ieremia, a former All Blacks centre, said the game against France was about rebuilding after a disappointing World Cup. Samoa beat the United States but then lost to South Africa, Japan and Scotland.

"We are trying to rebuild and move forward. In the November Test matches we have an opportunity to play tier 1 countries like France," said Ieremia.

"We need to have a look at playing winning rugby for Samoa, ensuring that we don't loose our Samoan identity in terms of the way we play.

"If we look back to some of the games we played last year for exemple against the All Blacks and against Scotland during the World Cup, I think we showed that there were some parts of those games that we need to embrace and also make sure that we continue to play that way."

But Ieremia, hit by the late withdrawal of Bristol playmaker Tusi Pisi with a long-term groin injury, said France represented a serious threat.

"They have got a very solid, aggressive tight five, very exciting and speedy oustide backs. We have some understanding of some players," he said in reference to five of the Samoa team who play club rugby in France.

"It is the home town of Noves, he has a track record here and the emotion that will be around the Test match will be special here in Toulouse.

"But we want to win. Our performance and the way we play against France is very important. I think that the exciting thing about these two teams is we are trying to rebuild and France are trying to rebuild."

Recent results: 
2012: France won 22-14, Paris
2009: France won 43-5, Paris
1999: France won 39-22, Apia

Prediction: France are at home and they have an exciting looking team with Francois Trinh-Duc at flyhalf. Expect France to win by at least 20 points,


France: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Remi Lamerat, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Virimi Vakatawa, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Loann Goujon, 6 Kevin Gourdon, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Julien Le Devedec, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Guilhem Guirado (captain), 1 Jefferson Poirot.
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 19 Charles Ollivon, 20 Baptiste Serin, 21 Jean-Marc Doussain, 22 Gael Fickou, 23 Rabah Slimani.

Samoa: 15 Paul Williams, 14 Paul Perez, 13 George Pisi, 12 Reynold Lee-Lo, 11 David Lemi (captain), 10 Patrick Fa'apale, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Jack Lam, 7 Genesis Mamea-Lemalu, 6 Alafoti Fa'oosiliva, 5 Teofilo Paulo, 4 Chris Vui, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Manu Leaiataua, 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Logovi'i Mulipola, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Jeff Lepa, 20 Greg Foe, 21 Peleifofoga Cowley, 22 Alapati Leuila, 23 Ken Pisi.

Date: Saturday, November 12
Venue: Stade Toulouse, Toulouse
Kick-off: 17.45 (16.45 GMT; 06.45 WST Sunday, November 13)
Expected weather: It will be mostly cloudy with a high of 14C and a low of 19C. There is a 90 percent chance of rain in the evening.
Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Tom Foley (England)
TMO: Stefano Pennè (Italy)

Agence France-Presse & @rugby365com