Sun, Sep 30, 2007 - Page 24 News List

France take on Georgia for place in quarter-finals


France only need to beat Georgia today to reach the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

That's the simple part.

Finishing top of Group D and avoiding the All Blacks in the last eight is a good deal more complicated and involves a big favor from Ireland.

France need to score four tries against Georgia to pick up a bonus point, and have to rely on Ireland beating Argentina without the Pumas collecting an extra point either in defense or attack.

That would give France first place with 15 points, and 14 for Argentina -- who can still be eliminated if Ireland run in four tries and wins by more than seven points.

"Honestly, we are thinking only about Georgia," France winger Aurelien Rougerie said. "We are taking things one at a time. We need to wait for the Ireland-Argentina match, so we'll see."

Topping Group D offers three advantages for France: a quarter-final against either Italy or Scotland, a home match at Stade de France rather than in another country against New Zealand, and a day more to rest and prepare.

"It would be better to play in France than in Cardiff," Rougerie said.

But before the French can start worrying about who they'll play next, they have to beat a gritty Georgia side first.

Buoyed by a 30-0 win over Namibia in midweek the Georgians want to finish the World Cup in style because they are desperate to promote the sport more back home.

"There is absolutely no question of letting go. We have to keep moving forward, keep focused," Georgia coach Malkhaz Cheishvili said. "We have freed ourselves up mentally [by winning] and now we have to give our all for the next match."

France have made several changes for the match as Bernard Laporte continues his squad rotation policy.

Hooker Sebastien Bruno finally gets a chance to show what he can do after sitting out the tournament's first three matches.

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