France began their World Cup campaign with a struggling 34-12 win against Balkan minnows Greece who were magnificent throughout.
France’s Jordan Dezaria opened the scoring in the eighth minute, powering over from short range with Arthur Mourgue converting.
Credit to Greece, however, they were causing France some problems and should have scored when Jonathan Mitsias couldn’t take in a Chaise Robinson looping pass with the line begging.
France’s respect for World Cup debutants Greece was evident when captain Benjamin Garcia opted to go for two from a penalty as Mourgue converted for an 8-0 lead after 24 minutes.
Greece’s approach to this fixture was inventive and a number of brilliant chip-and-chases only just didn’t work out, but France were able to take their chances and had another just after the half-hour mark when Tony Gigot followed up a Mourge kick.
Benjamin Jullien was able to force his way through shortly before half-time as Mourgue’s fourth successful conversion made it 20-0 at the break.
It was Mourgue that was on hand to finish off a great break from Matthieu Laguerre just after half-time as the French turned the screw.
They should have had another moments later, but Samisoni Langi knocked on over the line from a Mourge grubber.
And Greece made them pay with a wonderfully-worked try to register the Balkan side’s first ever World Cup four-pointer as Jordan Meads’ perfect kick sat up for teenager Siteni Taukamo as Doncaster’s Eco-Power Stadium erupted. Lachlan Ilias’ conversion brought Greece back to within 20 at 26-6.
They almost had another, too, when Taukamo galloped down the left wing but his kick inside failed to find a Greek teammate as Mourgue added another penalty.
Following back-to-back penalties, France finally had their second of the second-half when Jullien ran in from ten metres. Mourgue kept up his 100% record with the boot to make it seven from seven for a 34-6 lead.
But there was still enough time for Greece to register the try of the tournament so far with Billy Magoulias kicking for Nicholas Mougios who was able to sidestep Morgan Escare on his way to the line. It truly was a remarkable moment in an impressive night for the Greeks as Ilias converted to make it 34-12 on the hooter.
Morgan Escare, Arthur Romano, Samisoni Langi, Matthieu Laguerre, Fouad Yaha, Arthur Mourgue, Tony Gigot, Jordan Dezaria, Alrix Da Costa, Lambert Belmas, Benjamin Jullien, Paul Seguier, Benjamin Garcia (C). Subs (all used): Eloi Pelissier, Justin Sangare, Corentin Le Cam, Mickael Goudemand.
Tries: Dezaria, Gigot, Jullien 2, Mourgue
Goals: Mourgue 7/7
Chaise Robinson, Siteni Taukamo, Terence Constantinou, Nicholas Mougios, Jonathan Mitsias, Lachlan Ilias, Jordan Meads (C), Robert Tuliatu, Peter Mamouzelos, Sebastian Sell, Mitchell Zampetides, Nicholas Flocas, Billy Magoulias. Subs (all used): Jake Kambos, Myles Gal, Theodoros Nianiakas, Aris Dardamanis.
Tries: Taukamo, Mougios
Goals: Ilias 2/2
Referee: Adam Gee