Morgan Parra guided France to a 46-19 win over Canada in their second World Cup match in Napier yesterday.
In a game littered with elementary errors, Parra kicked four conversions and five of his six penalties. 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 remained within touch 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 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 capitalizing on a towering Trinh-Duc up-and-under that Pritchard spilled just meters from his own line. However, in a remarkable reversal of fortunes, Canada scored with the exact same tactic just three minutes later.
Parra equaled the score with a 16th minute penalty, Pritchard scuffing another penalty wide shortly after. The France scrum-half 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 fly-half Monro made amends with a well-struck drop-goal from 40m.
However, Parra hit straight back with his fifth penalty after Jason Marshall collapsed a scrum.
Monro then seized on a slip by his scrum-half Aaron Carpenter to snap an opportunist drop-goal.
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. However, Traille and then Clerc both ran in converted tries to move the game out of Canada’s grasp.
Clerc added some gloss to the score when he crossed for his third try after Maxime Mermoz broke the flagging Canadian line.