France's 19-12 victory over Ireland gives the two-time World Cup finalists hope of making further progress ahead of the kick-off of the World Cup, coach Marc Lievremont said on Sunday.
The French - who play Ireland again in Dublin next Saturday - had a disappointing defence of their Six Nations title this year, including an historic defeat by Italy, but Lievremont said he had seen things that gave him hope as they attempt to win the World Cup for the first time.
"We never gave up hope of making progress!" said the 42-year-old former backrow forward, who played in the 1999 World Cup final loss to Australia.
"Of course there was hope because we have a lot of quality players. This first match, given that it is always difficult to begin a new season and to find your rhythm, has in any case given us that hope.
"One has to think that these teams (New Zealand and Australia) have already been together for several months and that their potential margin of progress is probably less substantial than ours.
"If that is not the case, its true then things become complicated."
Lievremont, who came in for heavy criticism last November after a record home defeat by Australia, said that the Irish match had been a real test and therefore a useful indicator for the World Cup.
"Yes, the World Cup campaign is underway, it is what we all said before the match," said Lievremont, who was a surprise choice to replace Bernard Laporte after the 2007 World Cup, beating stronger candidates such as Fabien Galthie and Philippe Saint-Andre.
"Even if these matches have nothing at stake, they are still test matches.
"When one sees the intensity, the hard tackling on both sides, they are anything but friendly matches.
"Everyone is hungry to mark his territory, to raise their morale, to reassure themselves, and to make progress.
"In terms of all those things it was a good match."
Lievremont, who failed to win over all his many critics when he guided France to the 2010 Grand Slam, admitted that there were areas of the game that his players had to work on especially as having dominated the first-half they let a 13-3 lead slip to 13-12.
"The second half performance is where we must improve," said Lievremont.
"There is a connection between the first and second half, in that we didn't capitalise enough on our dominance.
"In the past we have often been reproached justifiably for not getting into what we call the danger zone, the opposition's 22.
"This we did manage to do for half-an-hour without scoring enough points, and which used up a lot of energy which we paid for later.
"We know the Irish have a lot of talent, a capacity to come back, a huge amount of pride and they made us pay after that period of domination.
"We wanted a win and we got it. There were good and less good moments, but we didn't doubt there would be."
Lievremont, who said he had been particularly pleased by the manner in which the scrum had played, said the test in Dublin would be a good rehearsal for the matches in New Zealand.
"Yes there will be more intensity next weekend but I think we will be able to rise to that," said Lievremont.
"Those players who sat out Saturday's match will want to throw down a challenge to their fellow squad members.
"I have said that everyone is going to get a match.
"In terms of the scrum I think we can line-up an equally effective bunch and that Ireland certainly don't have the capability to select two different packs even if Paul O'Connell can come in.
"It is going to be a febrile atmosphere, but it will give us an indication of what it will be like in New Zealand. There will be a relatively similar atmosphere, a hostile one.
"That is a good thing."
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