The Fijians are massive outsiders in the Cup, but shocked the French with a dazzling 7 tries to 1 victory.
Newcastle Knights flanker Akuila Uate touched down for 3 – of his tries, a scorching 90 metre solo run which brought the crowd to their feet – the Fijian’s showing too much enthusiasm for their more senior opponents.
Eels and NSW custodian Jarryd Hayne had a strong game at the back for the Fiji side, grabbing two tries and probing at the French defence line all night.
The big win all but assures Fiji a place in the next phase of the tournament, a semi-final qualifier against the winner of Pool 3 on Monday week.
If they can win that game, likely to be against Samoa, they could find themselves in a semi-final against tournament favourites Australia.
Hayne brought the pro-Fijian crowd of 9213 to life with a try in the sixth minute and his side never looked back in the Pool 2 match. They led 18-6 at the break and then sealed the amazing win with a four-tries-to-nil second-half shut-out.
The Fijians are deeply religious and their coach Joe Dakuitoga said their faith in a higher power had propelled them to victory.
“We want to thank God for giving the boys the strength [and] the power – so we are giving Him back all of the glory,” Dakuitoga said.
France lost hooker James Wynne early to a dislocated elbow but coach John Monie refused to make excuses for his well-beaten side.
“I was disappointed,” Monie said. “We should have played better football than that – they had too much enthusiasm.”
Meanwhile, Samoa and Tonga are clamouring for more international competition after supplying one of the best spectacles of the World Cup at Penrith on Friday.
The much-anticipated island derby produced one of the best matches of the tournament, with Samoa squeezing out a 20-12 win against their great rivals.