Free-flowing Wallabies hammer France
November 27, 2010
Australia scrum-half Will Genia powers forward during a try-scoring performance
© Getty Images
Australia thrashed France 59-16 at the Stade de France on Saturday thanks to a devastating second-half surge.
Waratahs wing Drew Mitchell finished with a hat-trick as the Wallabies' backline kicked into high gear, the tourists running in 46 unanswered points in the second period after the scores were level at 13-13 at half-time.
Centre Adam Ashley-Cooper had set the Wallabies on their way with an early try but it was not until prop Benn Robinson burrowed over on 48 minutes that the floodgates opened. Scrum-half Will Genia and wing James O'Connor scored tries either side of Mitchell's triple, with O'Connor also landing 24 points with the boot.
France exposed Australia's age-old problem in the scrum on 30 minutes to score a penalty try, but they were hopelessly off the pace as Australia stretched their legs and served further notice that they will challenge for the big one in New Zealand next year.
The Wallabies stunned the home crowd into silence with the opening try of the game on four minutes, carving up the French midfield off first-phase ball. Genia tidied up at the lineout and fired the ball to Berrick Barnes, whose inside pop-pass put a roving O'Connor hurtling into space. The Western Force youngster easily drew the fullback and put Ashley-Cooper over under the posts before adding the extras.
France pinched three points back through the boot of Morgan Parra following their first foray into Australian territory and O'Connor was unable to return the favour when presented with a kickable opportunity moments later. Strong counter-rucking by the visitors secured a second shot at goal in quick succession however and the Wallabies' lead was duly taken out to seven points.
France were guilty of some lateral play with ball in hand and Parra also failed to make an incision on the scoreboard when his second penalty struck the upright. A powerful surge from Toulouse hooker William Servat gave them added impetus soon after however and this time Parra made no mistake to reward a vigorous attack that utilised the pace and power of Aurelien Rougerie and Yohan Huget.
Australia picked up another three points from O'Connor after he had combined with Kurtley Beale in midfield, but the French pack hit their straps when gifted position from an Australian kick out on the full. A powerful maul close to the touchline was illegally pulled down by the tourists and the French wasted no time in going for the scrum. After multiple resets and complete dominance from the home side referee Bryce Lawrence signalled a penalty try and sin-binned Ben Alexander, who had been done over by the diminutive Thomas Domingo.
Australia's backs quickly forgot the setback and launched another attack through Mitchell, who lost the ball forward inches from the line following some brilliant hands to collect a chip ahead. The half ended with France under pressure but they were able to clear their lines and go in level.
Parra snatched the lead immediately after the restart once France managed to bring some of their heavy ball carriers into the game through midfield but they only served to spur Australia into action. Mixing up their backs and forwards to good effect, the Wallabies coursed forward with some superb support angles wearing down the French resistance.
From a five-metre scrum they scrambled the ball away and after a number of close calls, replacement prop Robinson was able to bundle across the line following a dart from Ashley-Cooper. O'Connor converted and it was only a matter of moments before the visitors were celebrating another try.
With the strains of La Marseillaise ringing around the stadium, Ashley-Cooper twice straightened the line, using two massive hand-offs to open gaps, before Genia dummied his way over from close range. O'Connor's extras took the lead out to 11 points after 52 minutes.
O'Connor added another three points to open up a 14-point lead, but the Wallabies were enjoying themselves and soon returned to stretching an increasingly tired French defensive line. Their fourth try was a simple example in execution as Barnes and Beale drew their men and offloaded to send Mitchell coasting in for a score out wide.
Mitchell then secured a quick-fire brace to round out his scoring exploits, first collecting an Ashley-Cooper grubber to race away before grounding the ball in-goal after skipper Rocky Elsom had powered over from a Quade Cooper cross-kick only to be held up by Rougerie.
O'Connor wrapped a bow around the result with a try in the dying seconds, flying along his flank to score in the corner after replacement Matt Giteau had combined well with Beale in midfield. The conversion fell across the face but the jeers around the ground at the final whistle will have been music to Australian ears.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game
Amy Perrett, the Australian referee who whistled the Women's Rugby World Cup final after handling only six Tests, talks to Jamie Lyall