FRANCE 41 CANADA 18
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.