FUKUOKA – A 33-9 loss would not quite suggest that the Eagles have landed but United States coach Gary Gold was satisfied they were on the right trajectory after giving the French a Fukuoka fright night at the World Cup on Wednesday.
The U.S. were unable to cross for a try but won plenty of respect from their opponents and local fans at the Hakatanomori Stadium as they fought back from 12-3 down to push within three points in the final quarter.
Three-time finalists France settled the matter with three late tries but the scoreline flattered them and an upbeat Gold was thrilled with how his team responded after their opening thrashing by England last week.
“I'm just so proud of everybody, the reserves made a big difference when they came on, we worked incredibly hard for this today,” the South African told reporters.
“A bit sad we didn't get a try for more on the scoreboard, but just a very, very good performance and really positive for the way forward.