Planet Rugby

Giteau kicks life out of France

27th June 2009 10:29

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Matt Giteau score against France

That man again: Matt Giteau

Australia defeated a wearisome French outfit 22-6 on Saturday, but managed little else in a painfully dull encounter at ANZ Stadium.

Sydney's far from enthralling spectacle handed the Wallabies their fourteenth win from fifteen on home soil over recent seasons, which has to rank them as major contenders for the Tri-Nations.

That assessment is not due to their most recent showing oh no, it comes from the maturity of their squad as on-field combinations continue to grow.

One such pairing has been the Matt Giteau and Berrick Barnes balance at numbers ten and twelve, which set up the game's only five pointer.

But that seventeenth minute effort was the only highlight in an international that failed to match all of its midweek hype, with breakdown offences ultimately hurting Les Bleus as the hosts pulled clear.

Giteau's impressive team score came either side of two Australian penalties that sent the teams in at 10-3 on half time. It was a much-needed break.

There could have been something to rival the pivot's effort soon after though, as Perpignan centre Maxime Mermoz found himself called back for offside by referee David Pearson, with a 50-metre run to the whitewash going begging.

Giteau added the three points that kept the scoreboard ticking over and so the pattern continued as Englishman Pearson struggled to impact any sort of flow on the 16-3 arrears in Sydney.

And with the looming prospect of a Bledisloe Cup opener against the All Blacks possibly in the back of Australia's minds, the trend continued until the final whistle in what was meant to be the perfect appetiser for South Africa versus the British & Irish Lions.

Man-of-the-match: It would be easy to hand the award to Matt Giteau after he claimed everything else in Sydney for Australia. But the hard graft and turnover work of flanker George Smith cannot be played down. One for the forwards.

Moment of the match: The simplest of decisions for this gong after Matt Giteau's first-half try proved the game's highlight. Started by the former Western Force man, his long pass to Stirling Mortlock allowed Lachie Turner to slice inside before Berrick Barnes fed his fly-half.

Villain of the match: Possibly the prospect of a Tri-Nations opener against New Zealand.

The scorers:

For Australia:

Tries: Giteau

Con: Giteau

Pen: Giteau 5

For France:

Pen: Beauxis, Yachvili

Australia: 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Richard Brown, 7 George Smith, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 James Horwill, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson.

Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Phil Waugh, 19 David Pocock, 20 Josh Valentine, 21 Ryan Cross, 22 James O'Connor.

France: 15 Damien Traille, 14 Maxime Medard, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Cedric Heymans, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Julien Puricelli, 7 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Romain Millo Chluski, 4 Pascal Papé, 3 Sylvain Marconnet, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Fabien Barcella.

Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Nicolas Mas, 18 Remy Martin, 19 Damien Chouly, 20 Julien Dupuy, 21 Vincent Clerc, 22 Julien Arias.

Referee: Dave Pearson (England)

Assistant referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)

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