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Bad news for Ireland as France are starting to look back to their best

Veteran fly-half Frederic Michalak gave his hopes of a World Cup starting spot a major lift with a record-breaking performance.

Frederic Michalak celebrates their 25-20 victory during the France vs England rugby friendly match at Stade de France.
Frederic Michalak celebrates their 25-20 victory during the France vs England rugby friendly match at Stade de France.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

France 25

England 20

VETERAN FLY-HALF Frederic Michalak gave his hopes of a World Cup starting spot a major lift with a record-breaking performance as France downed England 25-20 in Saturday’s warm-up match.

Michalak kicked 17 points as he became France’s all-time leading scorer, boosting his hopes of a third World Cup appearance when coach Philippe Saint-Andre names his final squad on Sunday.

France were worthy winners although they had to endure a nervy last 10 minutes when England, trailing 25-6 at the time, scored two quickfire tries.

England had won the first of these warm-ups last weekend at Twickenham with a narrow 19-14 triumph.

France made 12 changes from that match while England went for 14 changes in their starting XV, making them almost at full-strength.

But Stuart Lancaster’s side were under the cosh from the start on Saturday.

France’s South African born full-back Scott Spedding kicked a monster penalty from the halfway line for a 3-0 lead after Luther Burrell had been penalised for failing to roll away.

Michalak then took over the kicking duties with two successful penalties — the second awarded when Dan Cole was caught offside — earning him the honour of becoming France’s all-time leading points scorer.

The 32-year-old passed the previous best of Christophe Lamaison’s 380 points set between 1996 and 2001.

Michalak, playing in his 72nd Test, has played in three Six Nations Grand Slam winning sides in 2002, 2004 and 2010, and featured in the 2003 and 2007 World Cups.

He was on target again for 12-0 before George Ford got England’s first points on the board.

The two fly-halves popped over another penalty apiece as France went into the break 15-6 ahead.

France deservedly grabbed the game’s first try early in the second half with Michalak playing a crucial role.

He drew one defender and delayed his pass long enough for winger Yoann Huget to dart and dance through for the score, his seventh international try.

Michalak kicked the extras for 22-6.

As the second-half wore on, the playing surface deteriorated with large chunks of the Stade de France pitch being ploughed up.

Michalak added another penalty after England were punished at the breakdown for 25-6 before he was replaced, leaving the field to a standing ovation.

His impressive half-back partner Sebastien Tillous-Borde also came off and England took advantage of the disruption to score their first try 10 minutes from time when replacement Danny Cipriani check-stepped and burst through over the line.

Ford added the conversion for 25-13.

France then took their foot off the gas as the clock ticked down and centre Jonathan Joseph made them pay with a try in the corner which Ford converted for 25-20.

© AFP, 2015

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