France fall flat


France now know just how much they need to improve if they are to mount a realistic challenge for next year's World Cup title.

Australia needed to defend staunchly for much of the second half but still rallied to score a win over the French in their Test match at the Stade de France on Saturday.

The victory underlined that the gap between the dominant southern hemisphere teams and the northern hemisphere still exists - but that it may be narrowing.

Assistant coach Pierre Villepreux blamed Australian professionalism and his own team's lack of discipline in conceding a plethora of second-half penalties.

"We need some of the organisation that they have in the southern hemisphere - both in defence and attack," Villepreux said. "The Australian defence was very well-organised, and they were particularly well-organised on their kicking."

France were shut out in the second half after leading by a point at half time. Australian captain John Eales landed four second-half penalties to swing the match the Wallabies' way.

The match was furiously fast and physical and played in icy cold conditions dramatically unfamiliar to the tourists.

Australia's points came from tries from forwards David Wilson, Tom Bowman and Toutai Kefu, while the inspirational Eales kicked five penalties in all, as well as a conversion.

France got tries from rookie winger Thomas Lombard and scrum-half Philippe Carbonneau, while centre Christophe Lamaison kicked three penalties and a conversion.

France: Gomes; Bernat-Salles, Lamaison, Glas, Lombard; Aucagne, Carbonneau; T Lievremont, Magne, M Lievremont, Pelous, Brouzet, Tournaire, Ibanez (capt), Marconnet. Replacements: Castel for M Lievremont (69 mins).

Australia: Latham; Little, Herbe rt, Grey, Roff; Larkham, Gregan; Kefu, Wilson, Cockbain, Eales (captain), Bowman, Blades, Kearns, Noriega. Replacements: Finegan for Cockbain (57 mins), Ofenhagaue for Kefu (59 mins), Foley for Kearns (59 mins).

Referee: A Watson (Rsa).