Wallabies record comprehensive win to sweep France
June 21, 2014
Michael Hooper scored another try for Australia
© Getty Images
Australia completed a 3-0 series sweep against France in facile fashion at Allianz Stadium in Sydney, scoring five tries in recording their 11th consecutive home victory over Les Bleus. The victory, their seventh in succession, also marks the longest winning streak for an Australia side since 1999-2000 - when they were last world champions.
The Wallabies were untroubled by France after claiming an early lead through a penalty from Bernard Foley, slicing their opponents in front of a record 43,188-strong crowd with a combination of strength at the set-piece and breakdown, heavy defence and lightning attacks involving sublime interplay between the backs and the forwards.
Wycliff Palu was deservedly named man of the match for his strength with ball in hand and at the breakdown, but he must have been pressed hard for the award by Israel Folau, who scored another two tries and threatened the French line at will, and debutant Will Skelton. The 140kg second-rower powered over for the opening try and showed wonderful skills in tight and with ball in hand, dishing a lovely short ball to put Folau into space to canter to the posts for his second try of the game.
Australia's Will Skelton scored a try during his barnstorming Test debut © Getty Images
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper swan-dived over for a try in the 61st minute, after wonderful work from replacement centre Kurtley Beale, and reserve scrum-half Nick Phipps crossed for his first Test try inside the final five minutes. France hooker Guilhem Guirado scored the visitors' only try, touching down after a driving maul in a well-worked lineout move.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie enjoyed his 49th birthday present, but he still has plenty to consider about before he gets his players back in camp for their Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship preparations. Execution in attack was poor at times, and there slip-ups at the set-piece, but the Wallabies played with intent and shape in their attack to suggest last week's try-less Test was an aberration.
McKenzie was "happy with the scoreboard" as "the intent was really good".
"It obviously got a bit ropey at times, [but] that was more because the guys were probably trying a bit too hard," he said. "We scored tries in different ways through different contributors; it was a good performance."
Australia's Israel Folau celebrates as he runs in to score his second try © Getty Images
McKenzie noted also that his team had more to do, and to give, when they play New Zealand and South Africa in the Rugby Championship.
"We've got a system of play we've been developing, and we've had to re-invent that a little bit since the spring tour; now we've had three games to take that forward … it gives us confidence going into the next period in August."
Hooper also was "really happy with the guys", saying "we converted pressure today and held on to the ball well". Quite apart from the Wallabies' attacking strengths, he hailed their defensive efforts and their form at the breakdown as the keys to the victory.
"Defence wins you games, and that's been a real strong point for us … much more clinical at the breakdown, and our targeting over the ball was really good," Hooper said.
France captain Thierry Dusautoir said "the Wallabies scored too easily ... we got what we deserved today".
France back-rower Bernard Le Roux was dejected at full-time © Getty Images
Michael Hooper and his Wallabies celebrate their series sweep © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Firdose Moonda talks to Rob Louw about the difficulties of being a South African touring New Zealand at the height of Apartheid
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games