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France find the perfect blend to fend off gutsy World Cup rivals Canada

Published 01/10/2015

Canada's wing Phil Mackenzie dives to tackle France's wing Remy Grosso during a Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between France and Canada at stadium MK in Milton Keynes. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS
Canada's wing Phil Mackenzie dives to tackle France's wing Remy Grosso during a Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between France and Canada at stadium MK in Milton Keynes. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS
Remy Grosso of France holds off Ciaran Hearn of Canada as he scores their fifth try during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Canada at Stadium mk on October 1, 2015 in Milton Keynes. Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
France's flanker Bernard Le Roux catches the ball in a line out during a Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between France and Canada at stadium MK in Milton Keynes. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS
France's wing Remy Grosso runs with the ball during a Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between France and Canada at Stadium MK in Milton Keynes. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE
France's centre Mathieu Bastareaud is tackled next to France's scrum half Sebastien Tillous-Borde (L) during a Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between France and Canada at Stadium MK in Milton Keynes, north of London, on October 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE
Canada's fly half Nathan Hirayama passes the ball during a Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between France and Canada at stadium MK in Milton Keynes. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS
France's full-back Scott Spedding runs with the ball during a Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between France and Canada at stadium MK in Milton Keynes. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS
France's centre Wesley Fofana dives to score the first try as Canada's full-back Matt Evans tackles him during a Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between France and Canada at Stadium MK in Milton Keynes. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE
Rugby fans supporting Canada pose before kick off of the Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between France and Canada at stadium MK in Milton Keynes. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS
A French fan shows his colours ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Canada at Stadium mk on October 1, 2015 in Milton Keynes. Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
France's Rabah Slimani scores his side's third try during the Rugby World Cup match at stadium:mk, Milton Keynes. PRESS ASSOCIATION
Wesley Fofana of France fails to collect the ball over the try under pressure from Phil Mack of Canada the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Canada at Stadium mk on October 1, 2015 in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom. Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Canada's centre Ciaran Hearn catches the ball next to France's wing Remy Grosso prior to Canada scoring their first try during a Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between France and Canada at stadium MK in Milton Keynes
France's fly half Frederic Michalak runs with the ball in front of France's hooker Guilhem Guirado during a Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between France and Canada at Stadium MK in Milton Keynes, north of London, on October 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE
Canada's Phil Mack (left) attempts to tackle France's Damien Chouly (right) during the Rugby World Cup match at stadium:mk, Milton Keynes. PRESS ASSOCIATION.
France's Frederic Michalak makes a break during the Rugby World Cup match at stadium:mk, Milton Keynes. PRESS ASSOCIATION.
France's Wesley Fofana scores his side's first try during the Rugby World Cup match at stadium:mk, Milton Keynes. PRESS ASSOCIATION.
A France fan in the stands before the Rugby World Cup match at stadium:mk, Milton Keynes. PRESS ASSOCIATION.
France fans in the stands before the Rugby World Cup match at stadium:mk, Milton Keynes. PRESS ASSOCIATION.

France combined flair and force in a 41-18 World Cup victory over Canada in Milton Keynes.

Enigmatic fly-half Frederic Michalak was in majestic form, creating one score for Wesley Fofana, who fluffed another opening after some artistry from his team-mate.

The force came from the forwards as hooker Guilhem Guirado, tighthead prop Rabah Slimani and lock Pascal Pape scored close-range tries.

Debutant wing Remy Grosso added a fifth score, while Michalak finished with an immaculate 14-point haul off the kicking tee.

The 2011 runners-up have a 100 per cent record of three wins from three games in Pool D and next play Ireland on October 11, with top spot in the pool and a more favourable quarter-final draw likely at stake. Ireland first play Italy on Sunday.

It was not always straightforward for Les Bleus. The Canucks' gutsy performance was rewarded with tries from DTH van der Merwe and Aaron Carpenter, but there was to be no repeat of their solitary win over France, 21 years ago, at the ninth attempt.

Canada play Romania in Leicester next Tuesday, seeking to sign off from the tournament with a win.

The game was little more than three minutes old when Michalak darted down the blindside, evaded two would-be tacklers and then passed out of the back of his hand. Fofana was on his shoulder to score.

Thierry Dusautoir was all-action, as usual, and made a crucial tackle before contributing to a ruck which saw France turn over the ball five metres from their own line.

Canada continued to apply pressure, but France survived a charged-down kick and Nathan Hirayama's drop-goal attempt fell short before another moment of inspiration from Michalak.

The fly-half scythed through the Canucks defence and floated a chip over. All Fofana had to do was claim the bouncing ball, but it bounced through his hands.

A more agricultural route resulted in success after first Grosso and then Sebastien Tillous-Borde were held short. Next Guirado wriggled over from close range.

Canada immediately responded as scrum-half Phil Mack sniped round a ruck to be held short, sucking in French defenders.

The ball was swiftly spread wide to the left and Van der Merwe completed the overlap. Hirayama converted.

Canada continued to show ambition, running a kickable penalty and punching holes in the France defence.

And they were rewarded when Carpenter barged over from close range after a ruck.

France also spurned a shot at goal to kick for the corner and next drove forwards, with Slimani peeling round the maul to score. Michalak again converted.

Canada lost captain Tyler Ardron and full-back Harry Jones to injury in the first half, but kept themselves in contention early in the second as Hirayama kicked two penalties, reducing the deficit to six points. But that was as good as it got.

Les Bleus had already been looking for a fourth try and with it the bonus point, but Michalak opted to kick to restore the advantage to nine points.

France, camped in Canadian territory, showed further brute force as Pape barged over and Michalak converted.

Canada had Nanyak Dala sin-binned with eight minutes remaining and Grosso touched down in the corner on the overlap.

Morgan Parra converted to complete a resounding win.

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