Frederic Michalak became France’s record World Cup points scorer on Thursday as the French took a massive step towards the quarter-finals with a 41-18 win over Canada.
Michalak converted to draw level with Thierry Lacroix as France’s all-time leading World Cup scorer on 124.
The selection of the uncapped Remy Grosso, who came into the squad as a replacement for the injured Yoann Huget, on the right wing is the surprise in another -major reshuffle of the French deck, in which only three players – -Wesley Fofana, Bernard Le Roux and Brice Dulin – keep their places from the Romania game. Hooker Guilhem Guirado bundled over with Michalak adding the extras for 17-0.
Saint-Andre was critical of his team at half-time in their 38-11 win against Romania.
Canada: M Evans (H Jones 37); P MacKenzie, C Hearn, N Blevins, D Van Der Merwe; N Hirayama, P Mack (G McRorie 68); H Buydens (D Sears-Duru 48), A Carpenter (E Olmstead 61), D Wooldridge (A Tiedemann 68), B Beukeboom, J Cudmore, K Gilmour, R Thorpe (R Barkwill 48), T Ardron (capt; N Dala 18).
“In the Top 14 last season, Remy was pretty much the best winger”, said Spedding of Grosso.
Michalak took France’s lead to 10 in the 14th minute when Canada were penalised at the scrum and the ball was kicked through the posts.
A website selling Rugby World Cup tickets has been shut down by authorities after a consumer group warned that it appeared to be breaching tournament rules and flouting the law.
Canada coach Kieran Crowley is the only handler at the tournament to have won the Webb Ellis trophy as a player. “It was his way of getting us to react, and we reacted well to what he had to say”.
At least Canada’s tries stirred France back into action. Quick ruck ball allowed Michalak to demonstrate the positive attributes of his game, shimmying past tacklers, offloading with one hand and one delicious chip that would have led to a second try of the half for Fofana but for a capricious bounce a metre short of the line. The conversion was missed, and a thoroughly entertaining first half was capped off as France scored their third try of the evening through prop Rabah Slimani.
“There could be a plane-load of players coming from Canada”.
But Barritt, who moves back to inside centre at the expense of the benched Sam Burgess, says his side have slept easy this week knowing their fate still lies in their own hands.
The Mounties were whooping and hollering minutes later as unbelievably the Canadians scored their second try.
The fourth try was proving elusive until the French again opted against a shot at goal in favour of an attacking lineout.
All eyes will now turn to France’s decisive clash with Ireland next weekend but on this showing Philippe Saint-Andre’s side will need to improve after labouring to see off a plucky Canucks side.