Scrappy Australian win seals series victory over France
But dour win for Wallabies not a good advertisement for the game
Australia’s Israel Folau in possession against France during the second Test match at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Mark Nolan/Getty Images
Following a seven-try rout of Les Bleus in the Brisbane opener, a disappointing crowd of 27,000 turned up to the 55,000-capacity Docklands stadium on Saturday and may have expected more than the error-strewn spectacle served up from both sides.
Neither could blame the elements. The stadium’s roof was closed, shielding the pitch from drizzle over the city and offering sublime conditions for rugby.
Still scoreless after 52 minutes, jeers rang out from the depleted crowd as new captain Michael Hooper indicated Australia would shun the chance of setting up a try and instead take a kick at the posts after France were penalised in their own half.
The Wallabies deserved credit for holding off the visitors in a tense final few minutes to secure the win but the final siren merely heralded a storm of criticism on social media.
“Grind is the operative word, it was boring rubbish and if the Administration of Rugby Union want to put some bums on seats then they need to do something about the terrible spectacle that took place in Melbourne last night,” fumed one critic on a Fairfax Media website.
However ugly, the Wallabies won their sixth match in succession, and Australia coach Even McKenzie said
““The idea is always to go out there and score tries.
“Regardless of what gets written we showed great character and grit and in the end we toughed out a game that was complicated tactically and we won it. Maybe in the past we wouldn’t have won it.”
AUSTRALIA: Folau, Ashley-Cooper, Kuridrani (McCabe 61), Toomua, Cummins, Foley (Beale 61), White (Phipps 79), Slipper (Cowan 73), Polota-Nau (Charles 75), Kepu (Weeks 75), Simmons, Horwill (Jones 61), Fardy (Higginbotham 67), Hooper, McCalman.
FRANCE: Dulin, Huget, Bastareaud, Fofana, Medard (Lamerat 77), Tales, Parra (Michalak 76), Menini (Domingo 51), Guirado (Mach 73), Slimani (Mas 51), Flanquart (Le Roux 66), Maestri, Nyanga (Burban 48), Dusautoir (Picamoles 67), Chouly.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU).