Australia completed a 3-0 series whitewash over France with a 39-13 drubbing at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday.
After being shut out in a tight game in Melbourne last week, the impressive hosts outscored les Bleus five tries to one in a performance that bodes well for their chances in the Rugby Championship. The Wallabies were 20-6 up at the interval and were good value for their lead. Not once did France even come close to replying to the first-half tries from debutant Will Skelton and Israel Folau as their stale attack shot blanks at the well-organised Aussie defence.
By contrast, Australia were playing with real spark and vigour, dominating territory and possession and moving the ball across the park at pace. Folau bagged his double early in the second half before skipper Michael Hooper’s try on the hour mark left no doubt over the final result.
The tourists scored a consolation try via a driving maul but their dismal afternoon was capped by a late Nick Phipps touchdown as the Wallabies punished the lacklustre French defence. To further emphasise the contrast with last-week’s dour affair in front a record low crowd, the Sydney faithful set a new attendance benchmark of over 43 000 and their team didn’t disappoint with a clinical display.
France were never in it.
Australia were first to score – after just two minutes – when Bernard Foley slotted a long-range penalty. Maxime Machenaud – a late replacement for the injured Morgan Parra – should have levelled matters immediately after but his shot at goal hit the woodwork.
The Wallabies couldn’t get over the whitewash last week but Skelton touched down for the first try after just eight minutes. The hosts took it through 20 phases before the massive lock went straight through Fulgence Ouedraogo to power home from 5m out. Foley added the extras to give Australia a 10-point lead after as many minutes – the perfect start.
Despite an 84kg disadvantage, the French scrum earned a penalty which full-back Brice Dulin sent over from halfway, in a rare highlight for the visitors’ set piece.
But the good work was immediately undone as France coughed up a ruck penalty at the restart when Michael Hooper wrapped up Dulin to allowed Foley to restore the 10-point gap as the first quarter came to an end. With French prop Rabah Slimani in the sin bin (for an tackle without the ball), the Wallabies cashed in on their numerical advantage as Folau produced an excellent diving finish in the corner.
Foley’s touchline conversion split the uprights and at 20-3, the writing was on the wall for les Bleus. Machenaud landed a penalty for a collapsed maul shortly before the break to cut the deficit to 14 points when the half-time hooter sounded. But a comeback wasn’t to happen. First-half try scorers Skelton and Folau combined to put another nail in the French coffin as the big lock’s pop pass found a flying Folau, who raced home untouched.
Kurtley Beale impressed off the bench. He sliced the French defence apart and combined with Foley to put Hooper away for the fourth Aussie try.
France hooker Guilhem Guirado crashed over at the back of a rolling maul with 15 minutes to play but Phipps could add the icing to the Wallaby cake, taking a quick tap to score by catching France unawares.
Tries: Skelton, Folau 2, Hooper, Phipps
Cons: Foley 4
Pens: Foley 2
Pens: Dulin, Machenaud
Yellow cards: Slimani
Source: Planet Rugby