Michalak rescues France
Sat, 24 Nov 2012 21:02
Our goal was to win three matches
Rejuvenated flyhalf Frederic Michalak scored 19 points as France twice came from behind to defeat Samoa 22-14 in their one-off Test in Paris on Saturday.
The win gave France a sweep of their year-end series matches after beating Australia 33-6 and Argentina 39-22.
But they did it the hard way before securing their first November treble in seven years.
"There were a few nerves in the early part of the match," admitted Michalak, after guiding France to a third win in three meetings with Samoa.
"We thought we could make the difference late in the game, we saw them moving a lot less. But it was hard, they were dominating us.
"Our goal was to win three matches. In the first two, I think we surprised a lot of people in the way we dominated our opponents. But this game today showed that we still have work to do."
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre said his team had achieved their target.
"Mission accomplished. We had the objective of winning three matches and we have done it. It was a victory for courage and unity," said Saint-Andre.
Samoa, buoyed by their shock 26-19 win over Six Nations champions Wales last weekend, had stunned a half-full stadium by taking a 7-0 lead on the 15-minute mark.
Prop Census Johnston, who plays his club rugby with French Top 14 side Toulouse, broke the French line with a chip through a gaping hole with supporting full-back Robert Lilomaiava just keeping the ball in play.
He shrugged off Brice Dulin's tackle to feed skipper and winger David Lemi to score beneath the posts with fly-half Tusi Pisi kicking the conversion.
But France were level just three minutes later thanks to a fine individual try from Michalak.
The fly-half, enjoying a renaissance in his international career, charged down an attempted clearance by Pisi and ran 30 metres to score before adding the conversion for 7-7.
Five minutes from the interval, Johnston was penalised for an infringement at the ruck and scrum-half Morgan Parra succeeded with a penalty from 45 metres out to make the score 10-7 with Pisi squandering a penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Samoa stunned France again after just two minutes of the second half when lock Joe Tekori barrelled over, making the line for a score which went to the video referee. Pisi converted for a 14-10 lead.
But errors and indiscipline slowly crept into the Samoans' game and that was the cue for Michalak to complete his evening's master-class.
He kicked four penalties from four attempts -- the last of which in the 78th minute went in off the post -- as France celebrated a not entirely convincing win.
Samoa coach Stephen Betham admitted his players had paid a heavy price for a series of poor decisions.
"It was a tough battle. We played well, scrummaged well. We had our chances but made some bad decisions."
Pens: Parra, Michalak 4
Tries: Lemi, Tekori
Cons: Pisi 2
France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Wesley Fofana, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Vincent Clerc, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Pascal Papé (captain), 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Yannick Forestier, 18 Vince Debaty, 19 Jocelino Suta, 20 Damien Chouly, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Francois Trinh-Duc, 23 Yoann Huget.
Samoa: 15 Robert Lilomaiava, 14 Paul Perez, 13 George Pisi, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 David Lemi (captain), 10 Tusiata Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Taiasina Tuifua, 7 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Teofilo Paulo, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Ti'i Paulo, 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Ole Avei, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 James Johnston, 19 Fa'atiga Lemalu, 20 Tivaini Fomai, 21 Jeremy Su'a, 22 Ki Anufe, 23 Reupena Levasa.
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Alain Rolland (Ireland), Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
TMO: Iain Ramage (Scotland)
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