Rugby | France seal place in last eight with win over Tonga

France have booked their place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals with a 23-21 win over Tonga.

Les Bleus will now battle it out with Pool C leaders England for top place in the group when the rivals clash next Saturday.

Tonga gave their European opponents a huge scare in a game that went right to the wire at Umakana Yokana Stadium.

France made a strong start, taking a third-minute lead through a Romain Ntamack penalty.

Two minutes later, centre Virimi Vakatawa scored France’s first try after being played in by Alivereti Raka.

Ntamack converted to give Jacques Brunel’s men a 10-0 lead after just six minutes.

Raka recorded France’s second try just after the half hour mark; collecting his own kick and touching down after Baptiste Serin’s clever tap-penalty.

Ntamack added his second conversion to stretch Les Bleus’ lead.

Tonga’s Tane Takulua managed to ground the ball behind the try-line amid a writhing mass of bodies a minute before half time to get his nation on the scoreboard.

Takulua converted himself to make it 17-7 at the break.

Tonga scored their second try six minutes after the restart.

Malietoa Hingano collected Cooper Vuna’s kick and drove over the line to make it 17-12, with Takulua converting to reduce the deficit to three points.

Two Ntamack penalties allowed France to keep Toutai Kefu’s men at arm’s length.

However, Tonga ensured France would endure a nervy end to the game when Zane Kapeli bagged their third try two minutes from the end.

Kapeli touched down in the corner from Latiume Fosita’s kick, with Fosita converting to make it 23-21 with one minute left on the clock.

Time ran out for Tonga, and the final whistle sealed France’s place in the last eight.

Brunels’ men are second in Pool C on 13 points after three games, two off leaders England ahead of their intriguing match.