Australia beats France 6-0 in sloppy 2nd test
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australia clinched its three-test series against France with a dour 6-0 win in the second match on Saturday, the lowest-scoring encounter ever between the two teams.
Second-half penalties from flyhalf Bernard Foley and scrumhalf Nic White provided the only points in a match that offered plenty of opportunities for both teams that neither could capitalize on.
The previous lowest scoring match between the two teams was a 19-0 win by France in Paris in 1958. It was also the first time since the two teams first met in 1928 that France was held scoreless.
The win marked Australia’s sixth straight victory, its longest winning streak since 2005. France, meanwhile, has not won a test in Australia since 1990.
After losing the first test in Brisbane 50-23 last week, France opening the match at a frenetic pace, triggering a determined counterattack by the Australians only for the scores to be locked at 0-0 at halftime.
“It was a contrast (to the first test),” Australia coach Ewen McKenzie said. “It was a contrast on the scoreboard and it was a contrast in tactics too.
“It was pretty much a game of chicken in the first half. We created pressure then let them off the hook with some silly penalties in the middle of the field.”
Australia was denied a try in the 22nd minute when Matt Toomua was ruled to have interfered with French fullback Brice Dulin while chasing his own kick before No. 8 Ben McCalman touched down.
Yannick Nyanga had the best chance for France two minutes from the break when he charged down Toomua’s kick inside 10 meters, only to lose his grip on the ball short of the line.
“At halftime we should have been seven or 10 points in front,” France coach Philippe Saint-Andre said. “In the second half, Australia started very well and we needed to carry on.”
White had two chances to get Australia on the scoreboard within the first three minutes of the second half, but both penalty kicks missed the mark.
Australia finally made the breakthrough via Foley’s penalty kick 13 minutes into the second half, and White converted in the 65th after a French offside.
Kurtley Beale made an instant impact after coming on as flyhalf in the 62nd, delivering a cross-field kick into the French in-goal that almost paid off.
“It wasn’t like last week,” backrower Michael Hooper said after making his debut as Wallabies captain. “You’ve got to be able to find ways to win and all the good teams are doing that, so it’s nice to be in that space.”
France captain Thierry Dusautoir said his side was even more determined to take a win from the third test in Sydney next week.
“We haven’t won here for 24 years so it would be great to win the third game,” Dusautoir said.
Hooker Nathan Charles, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, made his test debut from the reserves bench in the closing minutes.
Australian media have been reporting that Charles, who kept the disease confidential until the past few seasons, is the only athlete with the condition in the world who is playing a professional contact sport.
The match also marked the 50th test for former captain James Horwill, who was replaced in the second half.
“6-0 is not the most attractive scoreline, but it’s a win,” Horwill said. “It wasn’t the prettiest game to watch but it was good to be a part of.”
Australia 6 (Bernard Foley, Nic White penalties), France 0. HT: 0-0.