France closed in on a Rugby World Cup quarterfinal spot after scoring five tries in a 41-18 win against Canada in their Pool D match on Thursday.
Michalak, who resumes his halfback partnership with Toulon team-mate Sebastien Tillous-Borde that Saint-Andre prefers, should garner the three points he requires to pass Thierry Lacroix’s World Cup points national record of 124.
Ireland are the only team that can prevent them from finishing top but Italy cannot do so even if they were to record bonus point wins over the Irish and Romania in their last two games.
Scott Spedding really came to the fore after the break, with the full-back involved in everything that was positive for the French.
Having seen their 17-point advantage whittled down to five, France went back to the driving maul to pile over and restore a few order with prop Rabah Slimani the man to emerge with the ball.
Les Bleus made a sensational start as Michalak beat three defenders before offloading to Fofana for the opening try of the game three minutes in.
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.
Canada was dealt another blow when captain Tyler Ardron suffered an injury midway through the first half.
Just like his side, consistency is an issue for the enigmatic out-half but he kicked 14 points in a flawless display with the boot.
A lovely left-foot chip from Michalak almost laid on another Fofana score but a second French try was not long in coming, a rolling maul allowing Guirado to dive over.
While the Canadians have found themselves playing catch-up all tournament, they do have the great asset of pace in the back-line. French debutant Remy Grosso was beaten in the air and the ball was eventually worked brilliantly out to the other wing where DTH van der Merwe used his speed to outpace the defence and touch down.
DTH van der Merwe, Nathan Hirayama and Matt Evans have sparkled at this tournament and put on a show for the watching public. At 17-0 and only 25 minutes gone it looked ominous, but Canada’s retort was exemplary.
Hirayama added the extras to make it 17-7 and it got better still soon after, Carpenter barging over from short range after Kyle Gilmour had initially butchered a massive overlap. The statistics present a convincing argument for crowning him the king of French fly-halves.
Whether fans came from further afield or from their abodes inside the MK postcode, they all made up what was another historical occasion to be held in these parts.
Veteran lock Pascal Pape got the all-important fourth try and the bonus point that France – runner-up four years ago to New Zealand – needed to reach the last eight.
The Canadians exhausted and saw replacement Nanyak Dala Bieng sin-binned as the game entered its final 10 minutes.