France end long wait in style
France 33 Australia 6:France emphatically ended their seven-year wait for victory over Australia with a bruising success in Paris tonight. Les Bleus were humbled 59-16 when these two sides last met in the French capital two years ago, but the memories of that encounter were almost completely banished as the home side mauled Australia’s scrum.The Wallabies’ fragility at the set-piece have been well documented in the past and the French ruthlessly set about proving it remained a significant soft spot.
France took just 13 minutes to expose the Wallabies’ pack when Louis Picamoles went over, and after Wesley Fofana put the game beyond doubt on the hour, the French dominance was underlined when they were awarded a penalty try from a scrum.
Australia’s problems will no doubt come as welcome news to the rest of their rivals on their European tour with England especially likely to test them in that area at Twickenham next weekend.
It was a also second successive match without a try for Robbie Deans’ side as their backline, already severely depleted by injury, saw precious little ball as their hosts thumped away up front.
Frederic Michalak and Mike Harris traded early penalties before the French went to work on Australia’s scrum.
Under pressure 10 yards from their own line, the Wallabies’ pack splintered under an initial push. The home side unsurprisingly opted to immediately pack down again and Picamoles escaped off the back to charge over.
Michalak converted to make it 10-3, but rather than press home their advantage, the French were forced into their own half for the next 20 minutes.
The Wallabies patiently built wave after wave of attack but their handling repeatedly let them down once they got inside the home 22.
Adam Ashley-Cooper and David Dennis were both guilty of knocking on in good positions before the visitors got some reward with a second Harris penalty.
Picamoles relieved the pressure on his side with a marauding run to finally get the French back into attacking territory, where their forwards again took over.
With the Wallabies creaking, the home side took the chance to grab more points in the shadows of half-time with Michalak knocking over a penalty and a drop goal to make it 16-6 at the break.
After the break it was all France as Australia succumbed to their first-half battering.
Picamoles and Yannick Nyanga both made surging breaks that the men in gold just about contained before their scrum folded again on 47 minutes to allow Florian Fritz a long-distance penalty attempt he shanked wide.
France were in full flight, though, and they got the second try they warranted on 57 minutes when Michalak ran through some weak Kurtley Beale defence to race free before sending Fofana over.
Michalak added the extras and at 23-6 the home side were out of sight.
There was more to come, though, and Picamoles was stopped just short of his second, but it mattered not as Australia’s scrum melted under yet more pressure to concede a penalty try that Michalak converted.
Australia thought they had gone over late on but Ashley-Cooper was denied by the television official before Morgan Parra completed the rout with a late penalty.