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Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 10:19 GMT
France ease past spirited USA
French centre Brian Liebenberg
France 41 (26)
Tries: Liebenberg (3), Poux, Bru
Cons: Merceron (2)
Pens: Merceron (3)
Drop goal: Yachvili
USA 14 (0)
Tries: Schubert, Hercus
Cons: Hercus (2)
France 41-14 USA

Brian Liebenberg ran in a hat-trick of tries as France maintained their 100% record in this year's Rgby World Cup.

The South African-born centre, making his first start down under, made light work of the Eagles defence for simple run-ins.

But the French, fielding a second-strength side, were far from convincing as the USA twice forced their way over the line.

The second-half scoreline of 15-14 in France's favour, showed the minnows' durability.

The Eagles never expected to win the contest and their cause was hardly helped when influential number eight Dan Lyle was replaced after a blow to the head.

Clement Poitrenaud, who will have caught coach Bernard Laporte's eye with some insightful running, produced a stunning break after 15 minutes for the game's first fireworks.

He left numerous defenders for dead in a scintillating 50 yard charge, and set up Liebenberg's opening try.

With 14 minutes on the clock, the omens did not look promising for the USA and things rapidly deteriorated.

'Les Bleus' nearly made it three on the half-hour when Dmitri Yachvili was dragged into touch before grounding the ball.

And the inevitable did finally arrive before the break when Jean-Baptiste Poux forced his way through to extend his side's advantage to 26-0.

Far from capitulating the USA fought back well and looked determined to make their final mark on the tournament.

I'm just proud of the effort the guys put in
USA captain Dave Hodges

After twice coming within a whisker of scoring in a period of intense pressure, Kort Schubert glided over after being put through by a Mike Hercus tap penalty.

Moments later Hercus, one of the finds of the tournament, clinched a try of his own after Riaan van Zyl and Mike MacDonald both went close.

With the scores at 31-14, the French finally picked up their game, to allow captain for the night Yannick Bru to bulldoze over within three minutes for his side's fifth try.

Gerald Merceron followed up the conversion with a penalty shortly afterwards to seal a decisive but ultimately unimpressive victory.

France: C Poitrenaud; P Elhorga, B Liebenberg, D Traille, D Bory; G Merceron, D Yachvili; O Miloud, Y Bru, JB Poux, D Aradou, O Brouzet (capt), S Chabal, P Tabacco, C Labit
Replacements: R Ibanez, S Marconnet, J Thion, O Magne, F Michalak, Y Jauzion, A Rougerie

USA: J Buchholz; D Fee, P Eloff, S Sika, R van Zyl; M Hercus, K Dalzel; M MacDonald, K Khasigian, D Dorsey, A Parker, L Gross, K Schubert, D Hodges (capt), D Lyle.
Replacements: M Wyatt, J Waasdorp, G Klerck, J Gouws, M Sherman, J Keyter, M Timoteo

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