France Thrash Wallabies
by Brendan Bradford –
The Wallabies were held tryless as they kicked off their Spring Tour with a 33-6 loss to France at the Stade de France in Paris.
Unable to capitalise on their superior first half territory and capitulating at the scrum, the tourists were repelled time and time again by the well organised French defence.
After forcing several early breakdown turnovers, the French forwards dominated at scrum-time and even outshone their backline counterparts on attack by finding plenty of gaps around the ruck.
The first scrum of the game, on Australia’s ten metre line, lead to a French free-kick when Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps fed the ball incorrectly. Opting for another scrum, the powerful French forwards won a penalty and confidently chose to pack down again. The Wallabies got a good hit this time and even seemed to have the upper hand but French No. 8 Louis Picamoles darted down the short side to score the only try of the first half.
As the French celebrated, Australian blindside flanker Dave Dennis was rightly outraged as he seemed to be obstructed from making a tackle on Picamoles by his opposite number, Yannick Nyanga.
Frederic Michalak kicked two penalties, a conversion and a drop goal as Mike Harris slotted two penalties of his own to make the score 16-6 at the break.
The French continued their physical, no nonsense game in the second half as the weary Wallabies defence continued to leak missed tackles and line breaks.
After deterring a series of pick and drives in the 55th minute, the French won another turnover and cleared downfield. Attempting to spark something from inside his own half, Kurtley Beale tapped a shallow kick for his outside men to run onto. The chase was poor though and Michalak was able to easily glide through a huge hole and pass to winger Wesley Fofana to score and run out to a 23-6 lead.
France’s forwards weren’t done yet. Earning a five metre scrum 10 minutes later after being held up in goal, France monstered the Wallabies, splintered the pack and were awarded a penalty try and a 30-6 advantage.
Stephen Moore came close to scoring a consolation try but was disallowed by the TMO before French replacement Morgan Parra added another penalty with five minutes on the clock to hand the Wallabies a worrying 33-6 first up Spring Tour loss.
The visitors’ attack lacked the fluidity of the impressive French interplay around the ruck as they turned the ball over 29 times and failed to score a try for the second match in succession. Defensively, the Wallabies missed 26 tackles and lacked the energy and organisation of the French line.
A tough game looms next week against England who dismantled Fiji 54-12 earlier in the day.
France 33 (Louis Picamoles, Wesley Fofana, penalty try; Frederic Michalak 3 cons, 2 pens, Morgan Parra pen; Frederic Michalak drop goal)
Australia 6 (Mike Harris 2 pens)