Damien Traille supplied a piece of individual brilliance, Morgan Parra proved deadly with the boot and Vincent Clerc claimed a hat-trick of tries as France eventually overcame a committed Canada in Pool A yesterday.
Full-back Traille broke past three defenders to score his side's second try in the 63rd minute as France opened a 32-19 lead that gave the twice World Cup runners-up the confidence to finish off a match that had threatened to get away from them.
Parra added five penalties and four conversions as the Canadians paid dearly for giving away silly penalties inside their own half, while Clerc ran in two of his three tries in the final five minutes as the North Americans tired. "I'm very proud of the French team, it's never easy to win against Canada with the rain," said the France captain, Aurélien Rougerie.
France had comfortably won their three most recent encounters against the Canadians but it was not until the final three minutes of the first half, with the score locked at 10-10, that they looked like they could win this game. Parra slotted three penalties in those final minutes as referee Craig Joubert heavily penalised the Canadians.
"I'm so proud of the way we played – if nothing else we showed ourselves that we can live with the top teams," said Canada's captain, Pat Riordan. "The guys are heartbroken and I think that shows the expectations we have."
France's solitary first-half try was fortuitous, coming after Canadian centre D T H Van der Merwe and full-back James Pritchard collided under a high ball, which allowed Clerc to snaffle the loose ball and race over unopposed.
Parra converted to give France a 7-3 lead following Pritchard's early penalty, before the Canadians tried the high kick themselves and centre Ryan Smith pounced on the loose ball to score under the posts; Pritchard added the conversion. Parra scored his first penalty to level the scores at 10-10 but neither side was able to maintain possession for any length of time before the France scrum-half's boot gave them a 19-10 lead at halftime.
The first 20 minutes of the second half turned into an arm-wrestle as both teams added six points to their totals before Pritchard reduced the deficit to 25-19 with his second penalty.
Traille then set off on a blistering 30-metre run around three defenders that extended the gap to 32-19 following Parra's conversion. Clerc added two late tries in the final five minutes to ensure France earned a bonus point.
France: Tries: Clerc 3, Traille; Conversions Parra 4; Penalties Parra 5; Drop goal Trinh-Duc. Canada: Try Smith; Conversion Pritchard; Penalties Pritchard 2; Drop goals Munro 2.
France D Traille; V Clerc, D Marty, M Mermoz, A Rougerie (capt, Medard, 72); F Trinh-Duc (D Yachvili, 69), M Parra; J-B Poux (F Barcella, 18), W Servat (G Guirado, 53), L Ducalcon, P Papé, R Millo-Chluski, F Ouedraogo (I Harinordoquy, 75) J Bonnaire, L Picamoles.
Canada J Pritchard; C Hearn, D T H Van der Merwe (C Trainor, 63), R Smith, P Mackenzie; A Monro, E Fairhurst; H Buydens, P Riordan (capt), M Marshall, J Sinclair, J Cudmore (T Hotson, 60), A Kleeberger, C O'Toole, A Carpenter.
Referee C Joubert (South Africa).Reuse content