HT France 26 USA 0
France’s second-stringers produced a solid and effective first half with a strong wind at their backs to open up a 26-0 lead over the USA in their final pool match in Wollongong.
Centre Brian Liebenberg scored two tries in his first outing at the tournament, the first created by a brilliant run from full-back Clement Poitrenaud and the second by a scrum win against the head by the French pack.
A third try by Jean Baptiste Poux underlined the French dominance.
The USA could have grabbed a try in the 22nd minute when David Fee was put into space on the right, but Poitrenaud recovered and, with the help of Merceron, bundled Fee into touch just short of the line.
Just before the half-hour mark, outstanding USA number eight Dan Lyle was left stunned after an accidental collision with team-mate Paul Eloff and had to leave the field. He was replaced by Jurie Gouws.
In the 29th minute Poitrenaud made another excellent run, this time down the right but when he fed Yachvili in support Alec Parker was able to get across and bundle the scrum-half out just before he could dot down.
France then had a superb chance to grab a third try when a series of attacking drives culminated in a penalty close to the American line, but the Eagles were able to resist the next attack and Hercus cleared to relieve the pressure.
In the 33rd minute a clever crosskick by Yachvili nearly found Pepito Elhorga charging through on the right, but it eluded both the Frenchman and American winger Riaan van Zyl.
But the pressure eventually told as Jean Baptiste Poux was powered over at a ruck for France’s third try, ably assisted by Patrick Tabacco.
Elhorga thought he had scored France’s fourth try when he intercepted a long pass from Hercus to Eloff and bolted over the line unopposed but was just offside.
The final scoring act of the half proved to be a penalty for Merceron, sending Les Bleus into the break 26-0.