Wallabies overpower limp France
June 7, 2014
Stephen Moore is set for scans after suffering an early knee injury
© Getty Images
Australia made an encouraging start to their Test campaign, scoring seven tries in running riot against France at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. They delighted the 33,718-strong crowd in claimimg their fifth consecutive Test win to equal their best streak in nine years, but it was not a perfect night for the Wallabies with Stephen Moore limping out of his first Test as captain after just five minutes and the pack conceding a penalty try as a scrum featuring replacement props Pek Cowan and Paddy Ryan splintered in time added-on at the end of the second half.
Pre-match concerns over the rookie halves pair and the second-row were unfounded as Nic White and Bernard Foley impressed and debutant lock Sam Carter was named man of the match as the team produced an attacking masterclass to pick up where they left off in Europe last year.
The seven-try blitz was their highest score over France in Australia, and they led 50-9 when Israel Folau loped 50 metres and put replacement Pat McCabe over with his first touch of the ball in the 71st minute. Folau also scored a try of his own and played a key role in the try of the night with Nick Cummins finishing a beautiful backline move. France, to their credit, made a late impact through their replacements to reduce the margin with two five-pointers, including the pushover penalty try in time added-on.
Israel Folau was sensational again © Getty Images
Moore said the result marked "a great start for us ... the boys were awesome, they did a great job," he said. "Our attack was really good … it came together quite nicely." Moore also praised the lineout as "excellent" while accepting the scrum was "inconsistent, but we'll do a bit more on that in the week".
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie was pleased after the match that "we were able to find ways to score points ... seven tries was a good effort first-up".
Frederic Michalak was downcast after a "tough" night but he refused to cite jet-lag and a short preparation as an excuse. "We need to play our best rugby, and tonight wasn't our best rugby," he said. Michalak said the team's strong finish "was too late, but I think it's good for next week to see if we can be better on the scrum and make some phases and be more patient".
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre said that fear had got the best of the visitors, whom he said were flattered by the scoreline. "Australia were physical, but with a fair bit of urgency," Saint-Andre said. "I think we panicked too much. Sometimes we needed to play to the space in our game, and not try to do too much against the speed of Australia."
But France captain Nicolas Mas said: "It's not a question of panicking. When the team was in a position to convert pressure into points we were making errors. We have to continue to work at that and eliminate errors when we've got an opportunity to score."
Kurtley Beale got on the scoreboard off the replacements bench © Getty Images
The Wallabies led 29-9 at half-time, with the game all but over, following a four-try first half in which the French fumbled their way out of contention.
Foley and White took to their task with relish - finding a hungry array of runners with wide passes of which Quade Cooper would have been proud - but it was 50-cap forwards Wycliff Palu and James Slipper, a stand out in his 65 minutes, who were the unlikely duo to combine and put Folau over for the opening try in the 19th minute.
Vice-captain Adam Ashley-Cooper was quickly over for the second thanks to a clever grubber by Foley for Cummins before a dropped intercept allowed Matt Toomua to put his winger over.
France hung in through the boot of veteran fly-half Michalak, but the Wallabies scooted clear with their clinical attack - Tevita Kuridrani producing a deft volleyball bump for Michael Hooper to score in the 32nd minute.
Toomua's try just before the break epitomised the game, the centre pouncing on a loose ball that debutant winger Felix le Bourhis left behind following a turnover from a Rob Simmons break.
Rob Simmons was strong for the Wallabies in Brisbane © Getty Images
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