France need a more disciplined approach at the breakdown against Canada in Thursday's Pool D clash in Milton Keynes, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
Les Bleus might have won their first two games against Italy and Romania, but were far from their best. The main chink in their armour has been the inability to successfully compete at the breakdown.
Collectively France have been sloppy so far, conceding 29 penalties in two outings – 13 inside their own half. Against more established opponents during the latter parts of the competition, such ill discipline will be punished.
Coach Philippe Saint-André has made the necessary changes to the starting lineup, which includes the return of long-standing captain Thierry Dusautoir at blindside flank and the mercurial Frédéric Michalak at flyhalf. The inclusion of Dusautoir, together with the positional change for South African-born Bernard le Roux, will help France to take control at the breakdown.
Canada have won none of their World Cup fixtures to date, but they came up against Six Nations champions Ireland in their first match and ran Italy close in the second.
They have made seven changes, but it could well be lively wing DTH van der Merwe, scoring two tries in as many matches, who emerges as the destroyer-in-chief against an unorganised French defence.
France can potentially secure a place in the next phase of the tournament with a bonus-point win before they face Ireland next week, but they'll have to contain Van der Merwe and co and show more consistency at the contact area to enhance their title credentials.
Counting in Les Bleus' favour is the fact they are on a six-match winning streak against the Canadians, the last of which came at the 2011 World Cup, when they recorded a 46-19 victory at McLean Park in Napier.
DUSAUTOIR'S STATS THAT MATTER
11 – Tackles made against Italy
4 – Turnovers won
10 – Metres gained
HEAD TO HEAD
France 7, Canada 1
France – 15 Scott Spedding, 14 Remy Grosso, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Brice Dulin, 10 Frédéric Michalak, 9 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Bernard le Roux, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Pascal Pape, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Eddy Ben Arous.
Subs: 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Nicolas Mas, 19 Yannick Nyanga, 20 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 21 Morgan Parra, 22 Remi Tales, 23 Alexandre Dumoulin.
Canada – 15 Matt Evans, 14 Phil Mackenzie, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Nick Blevins, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Nathan Hirayama, 9 Phil Mack, 8 Tyler Ardron (c), 7 Richard Thorpe, 6 Kyle Gilmour, 5 Jamie Cudmore, 4 Brett Beukeboom, 3 Doug Wooldridge, 2 Aaron Carpenter, 1 Hubert Buydens.
Subs: Ray Barkwill, 17 Djustice Sears-Duru, 18 Andrew Tiedemann, 19 Evan Olmstead, 20 Nanyak Dala, 21 Gordon McRorie, 22 Harry Jones, 23 Conor Trainor.
Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Angus Gardner (Australia)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)
Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP Photo