France shaken by Samoa
November 24, 2012
Samoa's Teofilo Paulo, left, catches France's Pascal Pape with an unorthodox tackle
© PA Photos
Frederic Michalak scored all but three of his side's points as France twice battled back from behind to defeat Samoa 22-14 in a hard-fought encounter in Paris.
Samoa stunned Six Nations champions Wales 26-19 last weekend and they outscored France two tries to one tonight, but it was the home side who ultimately claimed victory thanks largely to Michalak. The experienced fly-half, who booted 24 points as Les Bleus defeated Argentina 39-22 last weekend, scored and converted his side's only try and also added 12 points from penalties as France defended their place inside the top four of the IRB's world rankings as Europe's highest-ranked side.
Samoa's points came from tries by captain David Lemi and Joe Tekori, with Tusi Pisi adding the conversions for both.
Buoyed by their win in Cardiff, Samoa took the lead at the Stade de France in the 14th minute when Worcester winger Lemi touched down following a grubber kick from prop Census Johnston. Pisi's conversion made it 7-0 as France again found themselves having to fight back from behind after also trailing 13-3 against Argentina. On that occasion Philippe Saint-Andre's men roared back with a 21-point scoring blitz in just 17 first-half minutes, but their fightback this evening was less dynamic.
Michalak got them back on terms in the 19th minute after charging down a kick from Tusi Pisi to score a try that he also converted, and then scrum-half Morgan Parra slotted over a 36th-minute penalty to give France a 10-7 half-time lead.
The French, who have also beaten in Australia in the last fortnight, found themselves behind again right after the re-start, though, when lock Tekori charged over from close range for Samoa's second try of the night. Tusi Pisi's conversion made it 14-10 and another impressive scalp was back on the cards for the Pacific Islanders.
However, they could not hold on to that lead and a brace of Michalak penalties around the hour-mark put France back in front, and two more three-pointers from the Toulon man in the final 10 minutes sealed the victory.
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