French finish with a flourish

Vincent Clerc scored a hat-trick as France beat Canada 46-19 in Napier.

The Canadians were highly competitive and trailed by just six points with 15 minutes to go, before France, who had brought on their big guns at the start of the final quarter, scored three tries.

You have to feel sorry for Canada, who had just four days between their last match, against Tonga, and this one. They were out on their feet at the end and didn’t deserve to lose by 27 points.

There were two tries in the opening six minutes of this game and both came via flyhalf up and unders. First, Francois Trinh-Duc launched the ball into Canada’s 22, fullback James Pritchard was unable to collect it in the air and Clerc scored. Ander Monro then kicked one at the other end, with the ball bouncing off a post and sitting up nicely for outside centre Ryan Smith.

The Canadians continued to punch above their weight, but Pritchard missed two penalties and their indiscipline let them down in the final five minutes of the half, with France scrumhalf Morgan Parra kicking three penalties.

Pritchard was wide of the mark again early in the second half (in contrast to Parra who kicked his fifth penalty), but Monro slotted two drop goals to keep his side in touch. Trinh-Duc then kicked a drop of his own, which was cancelled out by a Pritchard penalty.

France finally put the result beyond doubt on the 65-minute mark when they sent the ball wide and fullback Damien Traille cut back inside past two defenders to score a 45m try.

Clerc then ran in two late tries to get his hat-trick, but the final scoreline flattered the French.

By Simon Borchardt

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