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Coach Crowley sticks with winning combination for Canada's World Cup match against France

09/16/2011 01:22 EDT | Updated 01/12/2012 01:36 EST
NAPIER, New Zealand - Canada coach Kieran Crowley has rewarded the players who combined to beat Tonga in their opening match with a chance to cause a Rugby World Cup upset against France on Sunday.

Crowley announced his squad Friday, retaining the same starting XV which scored two late tries in a 25-20 comeback win over Tonga two days earlier.

"There's always a challenge and it can be tempting to make the changes," Crowley said. "But we've been through a good recovery process, so they should be all OK."

Canada's coaching staff decided that the momentum and confidence gained from beating Tonga was more important than resting players in case of fatigue, with the matches just four days apart.

"We wanted to reward an outstanding performance," forwards coach Neil Barnes said. "And with the four-day turnaround, consistency is key."

Crowley, however, does admit the short turnaround may test the limitiations of his squad against France.

"We're not used to this sort of game without the turnaround, so it's a bit of a question mark isn't it?" he said. "But I guess Sunday will tell."

But flyhalf Ander Monro insists the occasion will override the tiredness.

"You feel sore, you have the odd bump," he said. "But I've done it before, and once you get out there and the adrenaline's pumping you just sort of get on with it."

Canada and Wales are the only teams to retain unchanged starting XVs this weekend, with the Welsh facing Samoa on Sunday in Hamilton.

Canada dominated Tonga in the set-piece and will be bidding to test France's impressive pack, with Pat Riordan leading the forwards at hooker, France-based Jamie Cudmore at lock, and bushy-bearded Adam Kleeberger at flanker.

Cudmore will face several of his Clermont Auvergne club teammates, including France captain Aurelien Rougerie, flanker Julien Bonnaire and scrumhalf Morgan Parra.

Left winger Phil Mackenzie scored a late try to down the Tongans, and he will be chasing his fifth try in as many games when he runs out against France -- although one was uncapped against the Barbarians in one of three warmup matches.

France had lopsided wins in its previous three tests against Canada -- 50-6 in 2005, 47-13 in 2004, and 35-3 in 2002.

But the World Cup seems to inspire the Canadians, and France won their two contests at this tournament by far tighter margins: 19-13 in 1991 and 33-20 in '99. France has won six of their seven meetings, losing away to Canada 18-16 in '94.

Cudmore and Kleeberger were both on the field last time the teams met, six years ago in Nantes, when France scored 25 points in each half and ran in seven tries to overwhelm the Canadians.

Props Hubert Buydens and Jason Marshall both did well against Tonga, but they will face a harder test against Toulouse's Jean-Baptiste Poux and Luc Ducalcon.

Canada's most capped player, scrumhalf Ed Fairhurst, will lead the backs alongside Monro.

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Canada: James Pritchard, Ciaran Hearn, DTH Van Der Merwe, Ryan Smith, Phil Mackenzie, Ander Monro, Ed Fairhurst; Aaron Carpenter, Chauncey O'Toole, Adam Kleeberger, Jamie Cudmore, Jebb Sinclair, Jason Marshall, Pat Riordan, Hubert Buydens. Reserves: Ryan Hamilton, Scott Franklin, Tyler Hotson, Nanyak Dala, Sean White, Nathan Hirayama, Conor Trainor.

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