Rugby: Michalak sets new landmark as France reach last eight

France's fly half Frederic Michalak (right) runs with the ball.
France's fly half Frederic Michalak (right) runs with the ball.AFP

MILTON KEYNES, United Kingdom (AFP) - Frederic Michalak became France's all-time World Cup points scorer on Thursday as his country became the first team to reach the quarter-finals with a 41-18 win over Canada.

The 33-year-old fly-half, already France's all-time leading scorer, scored 14 points to pass Thierry Lacroix' previous mark of 124. He moved on to 136 points, earning himself the man of the match award.

The mercurial playmaker broke the record in front of a record crowd for Stadium mk of 28,145, including Prince Harry.

France's far from convincing win - the Canadians came back from 17-0 down to 17-12 - sets them up for their final Pool D clash against Ireland on Oct 11 to decide who tops the table and avoids a probable clash against New Zealand.

The Irish, unbeaten in their two games so far, play Italy on Sunday.

A typical piece of visionary brilliance by Michalak opened up the Canadian defence in the fourth minute handing off one of the props dismissively and bursting free.

He drew his defender and with a sublime sleight of hand passed the ball to Wesley Fofana who needed no second invitation to run the ball in.

Michalak converted to draw level with Thierry Lacroix as France's all-time leading World Cup scorer on 124.

The 33-year-old broke the record in the 15th minute slotting over a penalty to make it 10-0. The Canadians evening worsened as captain Tyler Ardron had to go off with a knee injury.

Michalak and Fofana nearly combined for a second try in the 24th minute started by a great break by Michalak, then he placed a cheeky cross field kick into Fofana's path over the tryline but the centre wasn't quite able to gather the ball and touch it down.

However, the French did not have to wait long to add to their try tally. Hooker Guilhem Guirado bundled over with Michalak adding the extras for 17-0.

The Canadians struck back almost imediately as debutant Remy Grosso was beaten in the air and the ball was eventually worked brilliantly out to the other wing where DTH van der Merwe used his speed to outpace the defence and touch down.

VAN DER MERWE'S TRIO

It took van der Merwe onto 19 Test tries and was his third in three games at this World Cup.

Hirayama converted to rousing cheers, including several spectators dressed as Canadian Mounties, for 17-7.

The Mounties were whooping and hollering minutes later as unbelievably the Canadians scored their second try. Hooker Aaron Carpenter planted the ball on the line - though Hirayama missed the conversion - for 17-12.

The French pulled themselves together and responded with a try two minutes from the break, the ball worked by Bernard Le Roux to lock Pascal Pape for prop Rabah Slimani to finish it off - Michalak converted for 24-12.

Hirayama reduced the deficit two minutes into the second-half to make it 24-16.

The fly-half deservedly drew the Canadians within a converted try of the French, slotting over another penalty as the clock ticked over into the 55th minute.

Michalak made it 27-18 with another penalty.

The French grabbed their bonus point fourth try when Pape squeezed the ball through a mass of bodies and Michalak converted for 34-18 with 13 minutes remaining.

The Canadians were less than thrilled as their legs tired to see replacement Nanyak Dala Bieng sin-binned as the game entered its final 10 minutes.

The man advantage worked for Grosso who went in in the far left hand corner to mark his debut with a try, lifting his hands to his eyes as a pair of binoculars searching for someone in the crowd.