Michalak saves France the Samoan blushes

French veteran flyhalf Frederic Michalak scored 19 points as France came from behind twice to beat Samoa 22-14 in an Autumn International.


The win gave France a sweep of their autumn series matches after beating Australia 33-6 and Argentina 39-22.


But they did it the hard way before securing their first November treble in seven years.


“There were a few nerves in the early part of the match,” admitted Michalak, after guiding France to a third win in three meetings with Samoa.


“We thought we could make the difference late in the game, we saw them moving a lot less. But it was hard, they were dominating us.


“Our goal was to win three matches. In the first two, I think we surprised a lot of people in the way we dominated our opponents. But this game today showed that we still have work to do.”


France coach Philippe Saint-Andre said his team had achieved their target.


“Mission accomplished. We had the objective of winning three matches and we have done it. It was a victory for courage and unity,” said Saint-Andre.


Samoa, buoyed by their shock 26-19 win over Six Nations champions Wales last weekend, had stunned a half-full stadium by taking a 7-0 lead on the 15-minute mark.


Prop Census Johnston, who plays his club rugby with French Top 14 side Toulouse, broke the French line with a chip through a gaping hole with supporting full-back Robert Lilomaiava just keeping the ball in play.


He shrugged off Brice Dulin’s tackle to feed skipper and winger David Lemi to score beneath the posts with fly-half Tusi Pisi kicking the conversion.


But France were level just three minutes later thanks to a fine individual try from Michalak.


The fly-half, enjoying a renaissance in his international career, charged down an attempted clearance by Pisi and ran 30 metres to score before adding the conversion for 7-7.


Five minutes from the interval, Johnston was penalised for an infringement at the ruck and scrum-half Morgan Parra succeeded with a penalty from 45 metres out to make the score 10-7 with Pisi squandering a penalty on the stroke of half-time.


Samoa stunned France again after just two minutes of the second half when lock Joe Tekori barrelled over, making the line for a score which went to the video referee. Pisi converted for a 14-10 lead.


But errors and indiscipline slowly crept into the Samoans’ game and that was the cue for Michalak to complete his evening’s master-class.


He kicked four penalties from four attempts — the last of which in the 78th minute went in off the post — as France celebrated a not entirely convincing win.


Samoa coach Stephen Betham admitted his players had paid a heavy price for a series of poor decisions.


“It was a tough battle. We played well, scrummaged well. We had our chances but made some bad decisions.”


Final Score France 22 Samoa 14


Scorers


France
Try: Michalak
Con: Michalak
Pens: Parra, Michalak 4


Samoa
Tries: Lemi, Tekori
Cons: Pisi 2 .



Referee: John Lacey (IRL)


France (15-1)


Brice Dulin; Wesley Fofana, Florian Fritz, Maxime Mermoz, Vincent Clerc; Frederic Michalak, Morgan Parra; Louis Picamoles, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Yannick Nyanga; Yoann Maestri, Pascal Pape (capt); Nicolas Mas, Benjamin Kayser, Thomas Domingo


Replacements: Dimitri Szarzewski, Yannick Forestier, Vince Debaty, Jocelino Suta, Damien Chouly, Maxime Machenaud, Francois Trinh-Duc, Yoann Huget


Samoa (15-1)


Robert Lilomaiava; Paul Perez, George Pisi, Johnny Leota, David Lemi (capt); Tusiata Pisi, Kahn Fotuali’i; Taiasina Tuifua, Maurie Fa’asavalu, Ofisa Treviranus; Joe Tekori, Teofilo Paulo; Census Johnston, Ti’i Paulo, Sakaria Taulafo


Replacements: Ole Avei, Viliamu Afatia, Ja

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