An early red card for Napoleoni Nalaga ended the Pacific Islanders’ hopes of a European scalp as France ran out 42-17 winners in Sochaux.
The Islanders lead 6-3 through the boot of Seremaia Bai, but an appalling challenge by Nalaga on Jean-Baptiste Elissalde saw the Fijian sent off and the scrumhalf carried off on a stretcher – changing the outlook of the game.
The moment of utter madness came when Nalaga lined up Elissalde from a long way away, even though the scrumhalf had long since cleared the ball. Elissalde, who was left unconscious, was still receiving treatment long after Nalaga had been given his marching orders.
France took advantage of their numerical supremacy scoring two tries in quick succession through Dimitri Szarzewski and replacement scrumhalf Sebastien Tillous-Borde respectively to take an 11 point lead.
The Islanders got themselves back into the game as Bai converted two penalties to bring his side to within five points at half-time.
France came out firing in the second half as the Islanders struggled to stay in the contest with just 14 men.
Winger Cedric Heymans got the first try and when flyhalf David Skrela added two more penalties the game was all but over.
With ten minutes to go the Islanders had run out of steam and France finally put their foot down running in two tries in five minutes through replacement Louis Picamoles and fullback Maxime Medard respectively.
Epi Taione got a consolation try for the Islanders, barging through Imanol Harinordoquy, but it counted for nothing with time almost up.
France - Tries: Szarzewski, Tillous-Borde, Heymans, Picamoles, Medard. Convs: Skrela (4). Pens: Skrela (3)
Pacific Islanders - Try: Taione. Pens: Bai (4)