French winger Vincent Clerc was in record breaking mode as France beat Canada 46-19 in tonight's Rugby World Cup match in Napier.
Clerc grabbed a hat-trick of tries to take his World Cup tally to nine, one more than former winger Christophe Dominici's record.
While there was plenty for Clerc and his teammates to celebrate after the game played in front of 14,200 fans at McLean Park the score didn't reflect how gutsy and competitive the Canadians were.
Canada opened the scoring in the second minute when fullback James Pritchard succeeded with a handy penalty attempt when South African referee Craig Joubert judged a couple of the French backs to be offside.
France replied two minutes later with a try to Clerc who scooped up some loose ball and scampered away to touch down following the first of numeorus bombs put up by first five-eighth Francoi Trinh-Duc.
Halfback Morgan Parra succeeded with the conversion.
The aerial bombardment display in the slippery conditions continued when Canadian first five-eighth Ander Monro put up a bomb. As the ball bounced back off the goalpost pads Monro's second five-eighth Ryan Smith, who plays club rugby in France, secured it and scored.
Pritchard converted and Canada led 10-7 after eight minutes. Pritchard missed a penalty attempt in the 10th minute and Monro a dropped goal attempt a minute later.
France tied the score at 10-all in the 15th minute when Parra landed a handy penalty attempt. Pritchard missed a second penalty attempt in the 24th minute.
While Canada dominated possession and territory for most of the second quarter it was the French who had bragging rights at halftime courtesy of a 19-10 lead.
Parra, who succeeded with all five of his attempts at goal in the first half landed penalty attempts in the 37th, 38th and 40th minutes.
Joubert awarded the first after Smith was caught slowing the delivery down in the tackle.
The next was a breakdown infringement and the final one came when Canadian No.8 Aaron Carpenter was caught offside.
Canada dominated 53 per cent of possession and 52 per cent of territory in the first half.
However they were forced to make 50 tackles, 19 more than the French.
Canada's Kiwi coach and former All Black fullback Kieran Crowley had every right to be happy with his team's first 35 minutes.
The Canadians opened the scoring in the second spell when Monro succeeded with a dropped goal attempt in the 42nd minute from 35 metres out.
A minute earlier Pritchard failed with another penalty attempt.
Parra opened France's second half account in the 46th minute when Canadian prop and former American footballer Jason Marshall was penalised at scrum time and France led 22-13.
Monro succeeded with his second droped goal attempt in the 48th minute.
Parra missed his first kick at goal with a penalty attempt in the 51st minute.
His side turned down the opportunity to take another penalty kick in the 52nd minute when Pritchard was penalised for nudging Clerc over the advertising hoardings.
Trinh-Duc slotted the third droped goal of the match in the 56th minute to put his team ahead 25-16.
Pritchard kept the underdogs in touch with a penalty in the 58th minute.
The turning point in the game came when French fullback Damian Traille scored in the 64th minute after a spectacular clean break. Parra converted and the favourites led 32-19.
Traille made the most of a weakened Canadian defensive line following the departure of centre DTH van der Merwe with what appeared to be a shoulder injury.
Clerc scored his second try in the 78th minute which Parra converted from the touch line.
Clerc completed his hat-trick and claimed the record right on full time. Parra added the conversion.
Canada captain and hooker Pat Riordan said he was proud of his troops who proved they can compete with the top teams.
"The boys are heartbroken and that shows how high our expectations were," he added.
FRANCE 46 (Vincent Clerc 3, Damien Traille tries Morgan Parra 4 cons 5 pens Francois Trinh-Duc drop goal) bt CANADA 19 (Ryan Smith try James Pritchard con 2 pens Ander Monro 2 drop goals) at McLean Park. Referee: Craig Joubert. Crowd: 14,200.