France oust spirited Canada

Vincent Clerk is tackled by Jebb Sinclair (AP)
Vincent Clerk is tackled by Jebb Sinclair (AP)

Napier - Morgan Parra guided France to a 46-19 win over Canada in their second World Cup match here on Sunday to remain unbeaten in Pool A alongside New Zealand.

In a game littered with elementary errors, Parra kicked four conversions and five of his six penalties, including three in nine minutes before half-time that crucially saw France build a substantial lead they never conceded.

Winger Vincent Clerc bagged a hat-trick of tries and fullback Damien Traille also crossed the whitewash, while Francois Trinh-Duc kicked a drop-goal.

Canada, surprise 25-20 winners over Tonga in their opening pool match, remained within touching distance of the French thanks to a Ryan Smith try, two penalties and a conversion from James Pritchard, and two drop-goals by Ander Monro.

France, 47-21 winners over Japan in their opener, showed a willingness to run the ball from the kick-off, but a poor grubber kick handed possession to the Canadians, the French strayed offside and Pritchard banged over a simple second minute penalty.

The French came straight back just two minutes later, Clerc capitalising on a towering Trinh-Duc up-and-under that Pritchard spilled just metres from his own line.

But in a remarkable reversal of fortunes, Canada scored with the exact same tactic just three minutes later, Damien Traille failing to gather a Monro bomb, centre Smith enjoying the easy task of flopping on the ball over the line.

Pritchard then missed a 40-metre penalty and a snap drop-goal in quick succession as France struggled to master wet conditions that eased up as the game went on.

Parra equalled the score with a 16th minute penalty, Pritchard scuffing another penalty wide shortly after.

The France scrumhalf then notched up three penalties in quick succession as Canada twice infringed at the ruck and once strayed offside in midfield to importantly make it 19-10 at the break.

Pritchard made a real hash of a penalty early in the second-half but flyhalf Monro made amends with a well-struck drop-goal from 40 metres.

But Parra hit straight back with his fifth penalty after Jason Marshall collapsed a scrum.

Monro then seized on a slip by his scrumhalf Aaron Carpenter to snap an opportunist drop-goal with the French failing to pressure midfield.

Parra missed his first kick of the night when he dragged a penalty right of the uprights, but half-back partner Trinh-Duc nailed a drop-goal in the 56th minute to make it 25-16.

Pritchard closed the gap with his second successful penalty.

But Traille and then Clerc both ran in converted tries after mismoves down the right wing to move the game out of Canada's grasp.

With the final move of the match Clerc added some gloss to the score when he crossed for his third try after Maxime Mermoz broke the flagging Canadian line.


France - Tries: Vincent Clerc (3), Damien Traille. Penalties: Morgan Parra (5). Conversions: Parra (4). Drop goal: Francois Trinh-Duc.

Canada - Try: Ryan Smith. Penalties: James Pritchard (2). Conversions: Pritchard. Drop goal: Ander Monro (2)

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