Huget marks France return with try as Vakatawa scores hat-trick


Yoann Huget marked his return to the France team with a try, while Virimi Vakatawa scored a hat-trick in a commanding 52-8 victory over Samoa at the Stade Municipal in Toulouse.

A knee injury sustained in the opening match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup has kept Huget out of international action for more than a year.

However, the Toulouse wing touched down on familiar ground as France stormed to a fourth straight win in as many matches against Samoa, who were without the influential Tusi Pisi due to injury.

Guy Noves' team produced a slick attacking display as Vakatawa crossed three times, while Charles Ollivon and Gael Fickou also crossed either side of Reynold Lee-Lo's solitary try for the visitors.

Samoa took an early lead through a penalty from Patrick Fa'apale but Maxime Machenaud restored parity before Vakatawa dotted down the first try.

The ball was worked with speed to the wing on the left and he stepped inside full-back Paul Williams to cross, making the most of the hosts' incessant pressure.

Machenaud missed the conversion but was successful from a penalty in front of the posts, and Huget further enhanced France's advantage in the 29th minute.

Wesley Fofana stole possession from Alafoti Fa'osiliva and quickly sent a brilliant underhand offload to Huget, who raced in on the right-hand side for a triumphant comeback.

Another excellent pass from Fofana, this time a looping ball to the right, created a space which Ollivon darted through for his first international try ahead of half-time.

Lee-Lo made the most of a strong start to the second half from Samoa, creating a gap with a dummy to reduce the deficit, but France, who lost Francois Trinh-Duc to injury, hit back when Kevin Gourdon broke the line off a line-out to send Fickou in.

The hosts continued to move the ball excellently and Vakatawa was the beneficiary once again when he added his second in the corner, while their grit and power from the scrum was rewarded with a penalty try with four minutes remaining.

There was still time for Vakatawa to complete his hat-trick as France forced a turnover which the Fiji-born wing finished off by darting in from the left, rounding off a confidence-boosting win ahead of a meeting with Australia in Paris next Saturday.