The state of rugby in the Americas continues to look good as Canada pushed France hard in their Rugby World Cup clash in Napier on Sunday. Aftere a break of only four days, Canada were able to challenge France and push them far despite France having had a full seven days off and being a superior side. The European won the match by 46-19 after a late rush of tries to Vincent Clerc and Damien Traille after the Canadians had been within 10 points for the vas majority of the match. Canada had, infact, been leading the game 10-7 in the first half as the North Americans were better in the forwards and made France look ordinary. Canada scored the first points of the match to fullback James Pritchard who slotted a penlaty goal from 40 metres out. France hit back immediately as right winger, Vincent Clerc score the first of his three tries following an up-and-under which was badly taken by the Canadians. Scrumhalf, Morgan Parra slotted the conversion to give France a 7-3 lead after six minutes. The try was then virtually reversed 100% as Canadian inside centre, Ryan Smith scored a similar try as fuillback, Damien Traille had been unable to gather a high kick from flyhalf Ander Monro. With Pritchard´s conversion Canada were leading 10-7 in the eighth minute. Canada enjoyed the better of play for the remainder of the first half with the forwards in a dominant mood. Canada, however, were unable to score points as Parra slotted four penalty goals to give France a 19-10 halftime lead.
The North Americans continued to impress in the secondhalf as the were in control of territory and Ander Monro was on target with dropgoal attempts in the 44th and 49th minutes. Pritchard also slotted a 60th minute penalty as Canada looked like, in the least, scoring a bonus point for losing by 7 points or less. France, however, evenutally found its feet with flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc slotting a 57th minute dropgoal and then Damien Traille scoring a lovely try from inside the French half in the 64th minute. But Canada fought back hard and challenged well only to conceede two tries to Vincent Clerc in the final two minutes as the right winger went over in the 79th minute and then in the 83rd minute as France were able to keep the ball in play for three minutes after fulltime. The two late tries gave France a bonus point victory.
The performances of the professional players in Canada´s side was clearly influential, esecially in the forwards. Clermont secondrower, Jamie Cudmore had a strong match as did London Irish secondrower, Jebb Sinclair. Ospreys backrower Chauncey O´Toole was outstanding as was Engluish second division star Aaron Carpenter and the former Auckland backrower, Adam Kleeberger.
Canada stay in Napier to face Japan on Tuesday, September 27th while France travel to Auckland to face hosts, New Zealand on Saturday. The match, to be played at Eden Park, will determine who wins the Pool. Canada can still make the Quarter Finals if they are able to defeat both Japan and New Zealand. More importantly, perhaps, is that there is an autmoatic Rugby World Cup 2015 qualification place on the line for the team who finished third. Canada must, therefore target the Japanese match as a must-win encounter.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Samoa pushed Wales far and held for the majority fo the match before losing 17-10 in Hamilton in a match which saw Samoa pick up a bonus point and sees Wales remain in the tournament. A loss would have seen the Welsh´s Quarter Finals chances disappear. In Pool B, England remain undefeated after defeating Georgia 41-10 in Dunedin. England´s win should have been far bigger considering Georgia, like Canada, also played on Wednesday while England only played eight days earlier, on Saturday.
Pool A Standings
1 New Zealand 10
2 France 10
3 Canada 4
4 Tonga 1
5 Japan 0