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France defeat resilient Canucks


Vincent Clerc

Vincent Clerc

Vincent Clerc

France picked up a second straight Pool A win as a hat-trick of tries from Vincent Clerc saw them eventually overcome plucky Canada 46-19 and pick up a bonus point at a sodden McLean Park in Napier.

Scrum-half Morgan Parra converted tries from Clerc (three) and Damien Traille, as well as booting five penalties for a 23-point haul with Francois Trinh-Duc adding a drop goal.

Canada, who had beaten Tonga in their opening game, claimed a try through centre Ryan Smith with fly-half Ander Monro dropping two goals. Full-back James Pritchard kicked two penalties and converted Smith's score but was off target with three other efforts at goal.

Bedford full-back Pritchard had fired the Canucks into a third-minute lead after France riskily tried to play their way out from deep in the heavy rain.

But Pritchard was at fault for the opening try moments later as his failure to gather a Trinh-Duc up and under gave Clerc an easy run in, Parra adding the simple conversion.

Canada hit back in the ninth minute with a similar score. Monro put up the bomb and Traille failed to deal with it in the shadow of his own posts, the resulting scramble allowing Smith to dot down for a converted score.

Parra drew France level with a penalty after 15 minutes before Pritchard missed another valuable three-point chance for the underdogs and Les Bleus were able to end a scrappy half in front thanks to three Parra penalties late in the piece.

Monro eased the blow by landing a drop goal to trim the lead to six points but Parra quickly responded with his fifth penalty but was off target for the first time with his sixth effort following Monro's second successful drop at goal. The tit-for-tat scoring continued as a Trinh-Duc drop goal was cancelled out by a Pritchard penalty, with France unable to shake off the battling north Americans.

But they were finally able to put daylight between the sides as Traille cut a great line from full-back before dummying and cutting inside to score by the posts for Parra to convert.

And the fading Canadians then ran out of defenders in the final minutes to allow Clerc to slide over on the right, before the Toulouse wing completed his treble in injury time following a superb break from Maxime Mermoz to tee France up for their clash with hosts New Zealand next weekend.

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