France took themselves to the top of Pool C with a 12-try defeat of Japan in the day’s final match at Billings Park.
The 2014 bronze medallists had the bonus point wrapped up inside 16 minutes against the Sakura 15, flanker Romane Menager scoring a great solo try in the opening minute before winger Elodie Guiglion dotted down and prop Annaelle Deshayes was driven over by her fellow forwards as the clock reached 13 minutes.
A piece of brilliance from Caroline Ladagnous saw the outside centre burst through the defence to give France a 22-0 lead, but their charge was temporarily halted when they lost second-row Celine Ferrer to the sin-bin. In her absence, Japan did something they had never done before, scored a try in what is their third meeting with France.
Number eight Mateitoga Bogidraumainadave had been a headache for France throughout the first half and her powerful running was rewarded when she came off the back of a scrum and beat three players to go over under the posts to the delight of her team-mates.
France, though, had one more try in them before the break with second-row Lenaig Corson making a powerful break, shrugging off a couple of tackles and sending winger Caroline Boujard over to make it 29-0 at half-time. Bogidraumainadave was forced off within minutes of the restart and Japan never really recovered from the blow as Elodie Guiglion quickly grabbed her second try.
Les Bleues kept the pressure on Japan and the tries continued to flow with regularity, Aon Player of the Match Ladagnous compelting her hat-trick amid scores for prop Deshayes and replacement Montserrat Amedee, the latter marking her debut with a try on the hour mark.
France lost their replacement scrum-half Audrey Abadie to the sin-bin for a deliberate knockdown shortly after, but Japan quickly lost their player advantage when centre Makiko Tomita was sent off by referee Graham Cooper with 13 minutes to go.
A great solo burst from Menager was rewarded with a try and replacement Marjorie Mayans took France through the 70-point barrier but Japan finished strongly, scoring a try through replacement Yumeno Noda.
France captain Gaelle Mignot: “We are of course happy to start the competition like this and now we must focus on Australia. From the beginning to the end we were very together and we’re happy to have a complete game like this. We are really happy but we have things to work on.”
Japan captain Seina Saito: “This is our first World Cup match (since 2002) and despite all our preparation work we couldn’t do well for this match. We can take confidence from scoring these two tries against France because it shows we can score tries against good teams.”