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Rugby | International Rugby

Dimitri Yachvili © Gallo Images

Yachvili boosts France to victory over Fijians



Dimitri Yachvili landed 19 points with the boot as Six Nations Grand Slam champions France got their autumn Test matches off to a winning start with a 34-12 victory over Fiji in Nantes on Saturday.

Yachvili's points, on his first start for the national side since June 2009, allied to three tries and a penalty try saw the French rebound from two heavy defeats in the summer tour of South Africa and Argentina, which soured memories of their Six Nations success.

France play Argentina, winners against Italy earlier on Saturday, in Montpellier next Saturday.

France did not come out of the gates in sparkling fashion amid dreadful weather conditions of strong winds and driving rain, which frustrated two sides who normally like to run the ball.

Yachvili, who was part of a Biarritz veterans nerve centre of No8 Imanol Harinordoquy and fly-half Damien Traille, gave the hosts the lead with a penalty early on.

Two finely struck penalties by Fijian kicker Seremaia Bai gave the visitors the lead before Yachvili levelled matters in the 20th minute.

However, it was a dreadful missed penalty that gave France their first try as Yachvili's effort drifted harmlessly wide of the far post, only for Fiji's star Clermont winger Napolioni Nalaga to make a hash of grounding the ball.

Instead it bounced away from him and David Marty was the beneficiary as he touched down and gained reward for his decision to follow up Yachvili's kick.

The latter did not miss with his conversion to give the hosts a 13-6 lead.

Another infringement by the Fijians gave Yachvili an easy opportunity on the stroke of half-time and he accepted it gladly to give the scoreline a slightly flattering look.

Fiji once again displayed their erratic qualities by handing possession to the French when giant lock Jone Qovu had the ball stripped from him deep inside his half, and a nicely flighted kick into the corner found Maxime Medard running on to it to touch down.

Yachvili, who bridled at questions earlier in the week that he was still number two to younger Grand Slam-winning architect Morgan Parra, failed to convert but he added a penalty in the 45th minute as the hosts took control.

Bai reduced the deficit with a penalty but Yachvili replied with another penalty and then converted a penalty try awarded after the Fijian scrum persistently collapsed under enormous pressure from their French counterparts.

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