NAPIER, 18 Sept. - Canada captain Pat Riordan remained defiant in defeat after his side's 49-16 defeat by France in their Pool A match at McLean Park on Monday.
A gutsy display had the Canucks level at 10-10 three minutes before half-time but three quick penalties from scrum half Morgan Parra sent the French in at the break nine points ahead.
Canada continued to match their vaunted opponents after the restart, inspired by two superb drop goals by Ander Monro. But tries in the latter stages from Damien Traille and Vincent Clerc, with a double, finally broke the resistance of their tiring rearguard.
Riordon said: "If nothing else we showed we can live with the top teams.
"A lot of the guys are heartbroken. I think that shows the expectations we have for ourselves."
Riordan refused to blame the short turnaround after his side's match with Tonga for the defeat.
"A lot of people are making a big deal about the turnaround for the tier-two teams. We came with the attitude, 'Who says you can't play two games in four days'."
Full back James Pritchard kicked Canada into the lead after two minutes with a 35-metre penalty after Pascal Pape strayed offside at a ruck.
Pritchard fumbled an up and under from Francois Trinh-Duc three minutes later and Clerc gathered to touch down. Parra converted to send the French 7-3 ahead.
Ryan Smith went over to put the Canucks back in front after the French defence was found wanting under a high ball from Monro. Pritchard added the conversion to extend the advantage to 10-7.
A Parra penalty levelled the scores at 10-10 in the 17th minute
The Clermont Auvergne man put Les Bleus ahead in the 37th minute and extended their lead to nine points with two further quick penalties as the interval approached.
Munro kept the Canadians in contention after the restart, sending over two superb drop goals either side of another Parra penalty for the French.
Trinh-Duc got in on the drop goal act at the other end after 56 minutes when he planted another terrific effort between the posts to restore the nine-point deficit.
But Pritchard gave the Canucks renewed hope when he kicked his second penalty of the night three minutes later.
Full back Traille gave the French breathing space when he collected after a lineout in his own half and raced more than 60 metres through the Canadian defence for a stunning try. The ever-reliable boot of Parra added the extras to send Marc Lièvremont's team 32-19 ahead.
Clerc ran over twice in the last four minutes as Canada tired to wrap up the victory.
Pens: Pritchard 2
DG: Monro 2
Tries: Clerc 3, Traille
Convs: Parra 4
Pens: Parra 5