Preview: France v Samoa

Date published: November 11 2016

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There should be plenty of thrilling action when France and Samoa go head-to-head in Toulouse on Saturday.

Both these sides have been rebuilding under new coaches in 2016  – after disappointing campaigns at last year's Rugby World Cup – so it will be interesting to see how they approach this fixture.

France under their new boss, Guy Novès, have delivered a mixed bag of results this year and will be determined to hit the ground running ahead of Tests against Australia on November 19 and New Zealand on November 26.

Les Bleus head into this encounter after winning just three out of seven matches so far this year. They finished in fifth place on the Six Nations table having won two out of five matches before heading to Argentina in June where they suffered a defeat in their opening Test before beating their hosts in the next fixture of a two-match series.

France full-back Scott Spedding believes they should start producing results on a regular basis.

"It's been a year now that we've been together," he told AFP.

"I know that the public want to see results and there's a big month ahead of us when we have to win matches." 

Samoa, meanwhile, are trying to restore some lost pride under new head coach Alama Ieremia. The former All Blacks centre took over the reins from Stephen Betham after the World Cup in England and he started his reign with a draw against Georgia, before losing to Fiji and beating Tonga during June.

Ieremia has already made his presence felt with just 17 players, who were on duty during the mid-year internationals, in his current squad. He is determined to hit the ground running against France before Samoa's matches against Georgia and Canada.

"We want to win," he told AFP

"Our performance and the way we play against France is very important. I think that the exciting thing about Saturday is we are trying to rebuild and France is trying to rebuild."

Team news:

Maxime Machenaud will start at scrum-half for France ahead of Baptiste Serin. Machenaud partners François Trinh-Duc in the half-backs, while Louis Picamoles starts at six, combining with Kévin Goudon and Loann Goujon in the back row.

Guilhem Guirado captains the side at hooker, with Jefferson Poirot and Uini Atonio packing down alongside him. In-form Toulon back-row Charles Ollivon is on the bench, along with Gaël Fickou.

Meanwhile, Samoa will be captained by veteran wing David Lemi. He joins Paul Perez and Paul Williams in the back-three while there's more experience in midfield as Rey Lee-Lo and George Pisi start. With Tusi Pisi currently out injured, Patrick Faapale is named at fly-half alongside Kahn Fotuali'i as the Samoans look to upset les Bleus.

Up front Zac Taulafo and Census Johnston are the props, either side of hooker Manu Leaiataua, while Christopher Vui and Filo Paulo are named in the second-row, in front of Alafoti Faosiliva, Jack Lam and Genesis Mamea-Lemalu, who are sure to be a handful for the French.

Previous results:
2012:
France won 22-14 in Paris
2009: France won 43-5 in Paris
1999: France won 39-22 in Apia

Prediction: France can expect a tough challenge from the islanders who will be keen to get their tour off to a fine start. The hosts will prove too strong, however. France to win by 15 points!

The teams:

France: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Rémi Lamerat, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Virimi Vakatawa, 10 François Trinh-Duc, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Loann Goujon, 7 Kévin Gourdon, 6 Louis Picamoles, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Julien Le Devedec, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Guilhelm Guirado (c), 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Sébastian Vahaamahina, 19 Charles Ollivon, 20 Baptiste Serin, 21 Jean-Marc Doussain, 22 Gaël Fickou, 23 Rabah Slimani

Samoa: 15 Paul Williams, 14 Paul Perez, 13 George Pisi, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 David Lemi (c), 10 Patrick Faapale, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Genesis Mamea-Lemalu, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Alafoti Faosiliva, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Christopher Vui, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Manu Leaiataua, 1 Zac Taulafo
Replacements: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Logovi'i Mulipola, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Jeff Lepa, 20 Gregory Foe, 21 Pele Cowley, 22 D'Angelo Leuila, 23 Ken Pisi

Date: Saturday, November 12
Venue: Stadium Municipal, Toulouse
Kick-off: 17:45 local (16:45 GMT)
Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant Referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Tom Foley (England)
TMO: Stefano Pennè (Italy)

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