Everything will not have been perfect for this last preparation match on French soil before the English World Cup (October 15-November 19), but the French team, made up of many young players – including halfbacks Mourgue and Rougé -, provided the essentials by scoring six tries for the Welsh.
Under the Albigensian heat, the third-line partners Benjamin Garcia initially had a little trouble getting into the game. Upset by a very violent headwind, they were unable to ensure the continuity of the game, nor to rely on effective kicking. And the few occasions were quickly harvested by excessive haste.
Garcia as leader
But Garcia, named captain in the absence of Théo Fages (injured), showed the example, in the 20th minute, by hooking the Welsh defense before going to flatten like a top despite the return of three defenders. A test transformed by Arthur Mourgue (6-0).
It will then be necessary to wait for the 35th minute to see the Blues cross the line again thanks to Mickaël Goudemand, all in strength, after a good charge from Jordan Dezaria followed by an acceleration from Toulouse Olympique hooker Eloi Pélissier (12-0, 35th ).
“There were mistakes, we chose to play against the wind, we knew it was going to be complicated”admitted at halftime Garcia at the microphone of Via Occitania. The second act would prove him right. With the wind and thanks to good work from the forwards in the center of the field, the Blues finally managed to impose rhythm and undermine a blunt Welsh defense, to register four new tries.
The first by Eloi Pélissier, who escaped to bring the score to 18-0 in the 43rd. Imitated less than ten minutes later by Benjamin Jullien, well served wide by Anthony Marion. In his wake, the back of Salford Morgan Escaré, the only French player not to play for the Catalans Dragons or in Toulouse, would conclude his magnificent match with a personal achievement (28-6, 59th). Before the Catalan Julian Bousquet completes the victory of the Tricolors (34-6, 69th).
A few defensive errors and two injuries
With only four days of preparation for this international match wedged between two Super League days, the French have done the job against a team whose most players only play in the English Second Division. But the two Welsh tries, during the visitors’ only two incursions into the French camp – in the 50th by Butt and in the 75th by Dalton Grant (34-10) – tarnish the performance of Laurent Frayssinous’ players in the second part of the game.
Other shadows on the board: the outings on injury of the young Catalan half Arthur Mourgue, again affected in an ankle, and the Toulousain Romain Navarrete.
The coach will now only have a few short internships and a match against Tonga in England, at the end of the English season, to refine his team before the start of the World Cup on October 25 against Greece. The Blues will then face England on October 30 and Samoa on November 1. Two victories will be needed to achieve the stated objective of reaching the quarter-finals. The countdown begins.