Planet Rugby

Wallabies edge France in dire Test

14th June 2014 12:50

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Battle: Hooper and Médard

Australia edged out France 6-0 in one of the worst Test matches in recent memory to clinch the Test series in Melbourne.

Bizarrely considering there were 73 points last Saturday, we didn't get any at all here until the 53rd minute. Hardly a great advert for the rugby public in this part of Australia.

Both teams were overly cautious, kicked endlessly, dropped passes and conceded needless penalties when finally in a position to attack. Boy it was dull to watch.

There were no excuses related to the weather or off-field politics, both teams were simply dire. France might have shown more bite, but there was little class or control. The Wallabies were worthy of their win.

Where was the Wallabies' sense of adventure from Brisbane? It's a well-known fact that French flair under Philippe Saint-André is dead, but a sign of an effective gameplan might have been encouraging a week after being thrashed.

Brice Dulin and Nic White missed penalty opportunities but the Wallabies had come closest earlier in the first half when a decision went to the TMO.

Matt Toomua's chip over the top fooled everybody and in the scramble for the ball with Dulin he was adjudged to have obstructed the France full-back in the second before Ben McCalman grounded the loose ball.

France were made of much sterner stuff than the turnstile who rocked up at Suncorp. A lot of that comes down to their selection, as the big guys returning to the starting XV made a big impact.

Thierry Dusautoir was arguably the most important returnee, coming into the side and characteristically hacking his way through a ton of work at the breakdown to give France a good share of possession.

Rémi Talès showed far greater control outside Morgan Parra and it kept France on the up in terms of territory, their pack bolstered by the addition of Yannick Nyanga along with a pair of hungry young props in Alexandre Menini and Rabah Slimani. France's defence was solid, their set-piece clicking nicely. There was little else to them.

There was no way this one would finish scoreless and the inevitable breakthrough came from a penalty by Foley to put the Wallabies into the lead. The way it had gone, you suspected it might be the only score.

James Horwill's 50th cap came to a conclusion when he was replaced by a debutant in Luke Jones - a former ball boy for Australia over ten years ago.

White added a second penalty to at least give the Wallabies some comfort on the scoreboard with time winding down in the final quarter.

There were few chances, Adam Ashley-Cooper knocking on just short of the line in pursuit of a hacked through ball behind the French defence.

Bernard Le Roux's yellow card however seemed to condemn France to another defeat but White couldn't land the penalty with ten minutes to go.

Two front-rowers on debut for Australia made their bow as Nathan Charles and Laurie Weeks entered the fray, France still believing that the result was in reach.

A late break started by Dulin nearly rewarded that hope with what would have been a completely unfitting moment of brilliance from the visitors given the nature of the contest. A lineout outside the 22 gave them a final chance.

Naturally it went up in smoke with a miscued pass from Yoann Huget after he burst through the defence. The Wallabies found a way to win, gritty but nowhere near glorious.

One to forget.

The scorers:

For Australia:
Pens: Foley, White

For France:
Yellow Card: Le Roux

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Pek Cowan,) 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Luke Jones, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Pat McCabe.

France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Maxime Médard, 10 Rémi Talès, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Alexandre Flanquart, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Alexandre Menini.
Replacements: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Thomas Domingo, 18 Nicolas Mas, 19 Bernard le Roux, 20 Louis Picamoles, 21 Antoine Burban, 22 Frédéric Michalak, 23 Remi Lamerat.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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