England can take heart from the inevitable progression, with another bonus point, of Australia to their quarter-final meeting in Marseilles next Saturday as the Canucks bid farewell.
So concerned was the Wallaby coach, John Connolly, to protect his big guns from being spiked that he gave his dirt-trackers the run of the park before the serious stuff begins.
Wonderboy Berrick Barnes, who will be at stand-off, was not even on the bench. Barnes may have to carry the No 10 responsibilities all the way, even though Stephen Larkham is back walking after knee surgery.
Nor was the Wallaby captain, Stirling Mortlock, yet ready to be on the bench, despite coming through some tackle practice on Friday as a part-dislocated shoulder mends fully.
The first half was a harum-scarum affair in which the Australians squandered possession and territory. If, by some weird quirk of fate, the whole of Connolly's first-choice 15 were to be struck down in the next few days, then the thought of this second string steppingseamlessly up to the plate would be forlorn. A side with a feared back line saw their first two tries scored by front-rowers, Al Baxter and Adam Freier. But those, plus a second-minute penalty from Julian Huxley, were scant treasure.
If Canada, best result so far a draw with Japan and only two losing bonus points to show for their efforts, had hoped they would be able to take on the opposition up front, they were mistaken. But the hordes of Aussie supporters were not yet in bragging territory, despite their side dominating the line-out, drive and maul, and set scrum. Lote Tuqiri was just too greedy with the line beckoning; penalties wrecked scoring chances.
The second 40 saw Australia in complete control as the Canadians, three of them bowing out of the international arena, visibly wilted. The Wallaby captain, George Smith, reopened the account, Drew Mitchell added a well-taken pair, and the ever-polished Chris Latham hit Canada for the sixth.
Australia: Tries: Baxter, Freier, Smith, Mitchell 2, Latham. Conversions: Shepherd 2. Penalties:Huxley. Canada: Penalties Pritchard 2.
Australia: C Latham; C Shepherd, L Tuqiri, A Ashley-Cooper, D Mitchell; J Huxley, S Cordingley (G Gregan, 74); G Holmes, A Freier (S Hardman, 60), A Baxter, N Sharpe (P Waugh, 72), M Chisholm, H McMenimam, G Smith (Capt), D Lyons (S Hoiles, 46).
Canada: D van der Merwe (E Fairhurst, 75); J Mensah-Coker, M Pyke, D Daypuck (N Trenkel, 67), J Pritchard; A Monro, M Williams (capt); R Snow (D Pletch, 54,R Snow, 72), P Riordan (A Carpenter, 46), J Thiel,L Tait, M James (M Burak, 64), C Yukes (M Pletch, 64), D Biddle, S-M Stephen (M Webb, 54).
Referee: C White (Eng).
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