France qualify for Rugby World Cup quarter finals

Frederic Michalak was named man of the match.

France powered to a 41-18 bonus point Pool D victory over Canada in Milton Keynes setting up a pool decider with Ireland next week.

France were made to work for the result as they struggled to pull away from Canada until the final quarter of the match but then France’s superior fitness powered them home.

The result means that France have qualified for the Rugby World cup quarter finals as they have 14 points and lead Italy by 10 points while Ireland have 10 points but have played one less match.

Thirty-three-year-old fly-half and man of the match Frederic Michalak who is already France’s all-time leading scorer became France’s all-time World Cup points scorer.

Michalak scored 14 points to pass Thierry Lacroix’ previous mark of 124. He moved on to 136 points, earning himself the man of the match award.

The mercurial playmaker broke the record in front of a record crowd for Stadium mk of 28,145 including Prince Harry.

France’s far from convincing win — the Canadians came back from 17-0 down to 17-12 — sets them up for their final Pool D clash against Ireland to decide who tops the table and avoids a probable clash against New Zealand.

The Irish, unbeaten in their two games so far, play Italy on Sunday.

A typical piece of visionary brilliance by Michalak opened up the Canadian defence in the fourth minute handing off one of the props dismissively and bursting free.

He drew his defender and with a sublime sleight of hand passed the ball to Wesley Fofana who needed no second invitation to run the ball in.

Michalak converted to draw level with Thierry Lacroix as France’s all-time leading World Cup scorer on 124.

The 33-year-old broke the record in the 15th minute slotting over a penalty to make it 10-0. The Canadians evening worsened as captain Tyler Ardron had to go off with a knee injury.

Michalak and Fofana nearly combined for a second try in the 24th minute started by a great break by Michalak, then he placed a cheeky cross field kick into Fofana’s path over the tryline but the centre wasn’t quite able to gather the ball and touch it down.

However, the French did not have to wait long to add to their try tally. Hooker Guilhem Guirado bundled over with Michalak adding the extras for 17-0.

The Canadians struck back almost imediately as 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.

It took van der Merwe onto 19 Test tries and was his third in three games at this World Cup.

Hirayama converted to rousing cheers, including several spectators dressed as Canadian Mounties, for 17-7.

The Mounties were whooping and hollering minutes later as unbelievably the Canadians scored their second try. Hooker Aaron Carpenter planted the ball on the line — though Hirayama missed the conversion — for 17-12.

The French pulled themselves together and responded with a try two minutes from the break, the ball worked by Bernard Le Roux to lock Pascal Pape for prop Rabah Slimani to finish it off — Michalak converted for 24-12.

Hirayama reduced the deficit two minutes into the second-half to make it 24-16.

The fly-half deservedly drew the Canadians within a converted try of the French, slotting over another penalty as the clock ticked over into the 55th minute.

Michalak made it 27-18 with another penalty.

The French grabbed their bonus point fourth try when Pape squeezed the ball through a mass of bodies and Michalak converted for 34-18 with 13 minutes remaining.

The Canadians were less than thrilled as their legs tired to see replacement Nanyak Dala Bieng sin-binned as the game entered its final 10 minutes.

The man advantage worked for Grosso who went in in the far left hand corner to mark his debut with a try, lifting his hands to his eyes as a pair of binoculars searching for someone in the crowd.

Final Score France 41 (24) Canada 18 (18)

Scorers

France
Tries – Fofana, Guirado, Slimani, Pape, Grosso
Pen – Michalak (2)
Con – Michalak (4),Parra
Drop –
Cards –

Canada
Tries – van der Merwe, Carpenter
Pen – Hirayama (2)
Con – Hirayama
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: JP Doyle (ENG)

Teams

France

Scott Spedding; Remy Grosso, Mathieu Bastareaud, Wesley Fofana, Brice Dulin; Frederic Michalak, Sebastian Tillous-Borde; Damien Chouly, Bernard Le Roux, Thierry Dusautoir (capt); Yoann Maestri, Pascal Pape; Rabah Slimani, Guilhem Guirado, Eddy Ben Arous

Replacements: Benjamin Kayser, Vincent Debaty, Nicolas Mas, Yannick Nyanga, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Morgan Parra, Remi Tales, Alexandre Dumoulin

Canada

Matt Evans; Phil Mackenzie, Ciaran Hearn, Nick Blevins, DTH Van Der Merwe; Nathan Hirayama, Phil Mack; Tyler Ardron (capt), Richard Thorpe, Kyle Gilmour; Jamie Cudmore, Brett Beukeboom; Doug Wooldridge, Aaron Carpenter, Hubert Buydens.

Replacements: Ray Barkwill, Djustice Sears-Duru, Andrew Tiedemann, Evan Olmstead, Nanyak Dala, Gordon McRorie, Harry Jones, Conor Trainor

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