A successful penalty attempt then saw Michalak overtake Thierry Lacroix as France’s leading World Cup points scorer with 124 and he was so almost the architect of another try soon afterward as he cut inside veteran lock Jamie Cudmore and produced an exquisite chip on the angle that Fofana failed to take cleanly despite the favourable bounce.
The Canadians were less than thrilled as their legs exhausted to see replacement Nanyak Dala Bieng sin-binned as the game entered its final 10 minutes.
Despite it being a fifth straight win for France, Saint-Andre will be seeking answers as to why his team switched off in the first half.
Philippe Saint-Andre’s men scored a couple of late tries to pull away from their opponents, setting up what looks to be like a pool deciding final game against Ireland in Cardiff.
France emptied the bench after that, the experience of Nicolas Mas and Morgan Parra introduced and Pape reached out for their fourth try and the bonus point.
Hopes are high that it can win its remaining fixtures against Samoa and the United States and qualify for the knockout stages for the first time. “We have to be better in the rucks”, said Saint-Andre. “They were playing with a lot of speed and we failed to react properly”.
“I’m really proud of the performance”, Canada coach Kieran Crowley said. Their left wing DTW Van Der Merwe stands second behind Mike Brown in the “yards made” category, and he made it three tries in three games when he concluded a superb move that had started with Ciaran Hearn regathering a kick-off at full pace.
“We are disappointed with how the result went but I am happy we competed for long periods.”
The French won a penalty at the end of the half, but Michalak chose an attacking lineout instead of a shot at goal.
Prop forward Rabah Slimani put a break on the Canadian comeback, when he notched his second try of the tournament on the cusp of half-time. “We will have three games in eleven days, and you wouldn’t ask Ireland to do it, and you wouldn’t ask France to do it. It’s a real challenge for the coaches, but we have to deal with it”, he told the press after the game.
Les Bleus took the lead after just four minutes when Frederic Michalak offloaded to Wesley Fofana, who dodged a Canadian tackle before crossing the line.
Michalak converted to draw level with Lacroix’s record.
Michalak added another two points to his pile when he converted Guilhem Guirado’s try.
It wasn’t just Michalak’s kicking on display here, it was his passing too. Mathieu Bastareaud was held up near the posts before Pape stretched out from the subsequent rolling maul to get the fourth try, awarded after a television replay.
Crowley says Barkwill and Moonlight are being given a rest after a heavy work load, with the more physical Thorpe coming in to help combat the French drive up the middle.