Here’s Angus Fontaine’s match report:
With those lovely words from Edwards, I’ll sign off. What a game. Really, that was just so much fun.
Australia gave as good as they got and went ahead twice in the contest with two brilliant tries. The first was a thing of beauty and I suggest you go find a replay of it ASAP.
But France are the real deal and this win, sealed with a majestic score from Penaud, extends their winning run to 11. Will they lose another game before the World Cup next year. Almost certainly. But this victory will give them immense confidence as they gear up for that showpiece event on home soil.
But first, the Springboks in Marseille next week. The Aussies go to Florence to take on Italy. That’ll be a goodie as well.
I’ll catch you then.
The final word goes to France’s forwards coach, Shaun Edwards, who looks pretty pleased:
That’s the kind of game that you want for the supporters on TV and those watching in the stadium, biting their finger nails. That’s what you want from elite sport.
[On Penaud] A special player. One of, if not the best player in his position.
We haven’t played together for seven months. We’ve had two weeks together. To win against a top class Australia team, who played well, [that speaks volumes of the team spirit].
Two years ago we lose that game every time. The spirit to come back. To come back twice in one game shows you’ve got spirit.
Dave Rennie, with a face like thunder, is speaking to the Amazon panel:
They’re a good side. We gave them opportunities late and couldn’t control territory late in the game and they stung us.
I’m proud of the effort but it hurts.
I thought we defended well last week, and that our defensive maul was excellent and we did that again tonight.
It’s a different game here, there’s a lot more kicking. We made a lot of tackles compared to France. Proud of the effort but the boys will be hurting in the shed.
Nic White and his massive ‘mo is on the mic.
That was tough. Last week we were lucky and maybe this week we were unlucky. An incredibly try at the end. We’ll take some learnings bu the initial feelings is we’re gutted.
We’ll have a look at the last 10 minutes. without going into too much detail, there is something we’ll learn.
We had some positives and were right in it. we feel like we probably should have won it.
Whilst we didn’t get the result, we put two performances back to back. we performed well and will take the positives out of that.
They’re a very good side. Very good on defence. We’re happy with the amount of points we scored.
This one will hurt for a day or so.
Strange to say, but I enjoyed that interview from White. Honest and raw. I know he divides opinion but I’m a fan.
Here’s Thibaud Flament
A very tough win. We knew it would be very tight. Very happy with the boys. We didn’t give up for the 80 minutes.
We knew Australia would come back in the game and had a lot of character.
This gives us a lot of confidence to the group. To share this with the public is amazing.
[The fans] have been amazing. They gave us confidence through the whole game.
That was a belter. Both teams gave it everything. There was some disjointed player but I tell you what, you’ll do well to find a better Test this Autumn. Foketi scored a banger if a try off the back of a blistering run from Wright who was later side-stepped by Penaud who touched down the winger, jinking this way and that, registering a five-pointer that will be plastered over all the newspapers in Paris tomorrow morning.
France probably deserved that. Just about. They bossed the breakdown, their forwards regularly gave them go forward ball and their set piece had the ascendency for most of the contest.
A bit of rustiness let Australia in who came so close to securing an almighty upset. It wasn’t to be. France, many punter’s favourites to lift the World Cup here next year, continue their impressive run.
Some reaction to come shortly.
80 mins: That is a game winning steal from Danty at the breakdown. Over the ball, strong, immovable. Game over. France win it by a point! 11 wins in a row for France, a new personal best.
80 mins: A strong counter shove in the scrum means Australia get the ball back from a French scrum. They’re a mile away from the French try line but they have the ball. Can they do it?
Stunning! That is stunning from Penaud who has stepped one way, then the other, and then fended off an Australian to score what could be the match winning try.
It began with a counter attack from Jalibert who wriggles past the gainline. The ball is recycled with Taofifenua involved in a wraparound. Jalibert is back on the ball and floats a pass over the top to Penaud in space but the winger has so much to do still.
He stands Wright up and then cuts inside him. he turns backl and darts for the corner, getting a strong hand off on the next would-be tackler. Some questionable defending but that shouldn’t be the takeaway. Sensational score. Worthy of winning any game.
The conversion is missed so Australia can still win this with a three-pointer.
Hodge belts the leather off it. That went higher than the poles. But all that matters is that it went through the middle. Australia with a four point cushion.
74 mins: Australia get the penalty for a high tackle from Taofifenua. France not helping themselves. Foley is off but Hodge can line this one up.
There might have been the temptation to kick for the corner but France have opted to take the three on offer. Ramos has to convert and he does. One point game. A blockbuster finish coming up.
72 mins: France get a penalty. It’s relentless at the breakdown but this one’s for an off-side as the Aussies encroach. Ramos stands over it…
70 mins: What a moment! France have the line-out and get the driving maul going. Australia’s maul defence is impressive but Aldritt splinters and almost gets his offload to Falatea but the big man can’t hold on. Australia get it back and pass it down the line inside their own goal area. Wright wants to run it but Foley kicks it out. They also get a penalty as France are off-side.
69 mins: Another penalty. This time from Australia’s maul defence. France go to the corner again.
68 mins: France finally manage to get the ball wide in space and it’s Penaud on the ball. He darts back in field as he runs out pitch and France keep it alive with some slick handling from their heavies. Dupont is spinning it right and Aldritt charges for the line but is stopped short. There’s a penalty after Hooper tackled Danty without the ball. They go to the line-out.
Foley slots it. Another clean strike and Australia open a bit of breathing room. Whisper it quietly…
64 mins: Good from Australia who remain patient with ball in hand. Big carries from Valetini who wriggles through and Skelton who bustles over every gainline he meets. Another big carry from the big lock almost leads to a turnover but the French are off their feet so it’s a penalty that Foley is lining up.
62 mins: More kicking. Both teams feeling each other out. It settles with Australia in possession in their own half. White puts it up again and Dupont is nailed by the chasing Wallabies as he fields the ball.
France have it again. Dupont has dusted himself off and puts in a kick of his own.
60 mins: Australia are up for this. From a scrum inside their own half on the right they send it down the line and work some space on the opposite touchline with Wright doing well. White toes an excellent kick down the line and puts Ramos under pressure but the Frenchman responds with an even better banana kick back where it came from. It’s so tight out there.
Wonderful. Australia don’t score mundane tries. This is another banger. Not as good as the first, but still very, very tasty. White spots the overlap out on the right so floats one wide. Campbell straightens and works a gap. He’ wriggles through it and dives over to complete an excellent move.
Foley slots a tough kick on the touchline and Australia are back in front. What a game!
55 mins: Australia win a penalty and will kick it into touch. The line-out is good and the maul creaks into action. Fainga’a has a dart but is stopped. Skelton gets on the charge. White pops a short pass for another forward. Fainga’a again, space on the right….
We’ve got Skelton. I repeat. We’ve got Will Skelton!
Flament has just plucked a ball out of the air from the line-out with one hand. Remarkable skill.
52 mins: A few changes for each team. Still no Skelton.
France get the maul drive going and make 15m. They then go left and it’s wonderful passing to create space. Even Baille with 1 on his back is involved. Dupont running the show. France looking good.
50 mins: Woki is off. He’s had a good game. On comes Taofifenua.
50 mins: Ramos has the distance from another 50m attempt but he pulls it and it misses the posts to the left.
48 mins: France turn the ball over. They just look bigger and stronger. They’re roughing up the Aussies a bit.
But Australia get it back. Campbell makes a dart through the middle but he’s swamped in the tackle and there’s another penalty for France. Danty is over the ball after Wright catches a high ball and goes to ground.
Ramos nails it. He’s kicking beautifully tonight. Six point game.
45 mins: Swift passing from France keeps the ball alive. Marchand with a strong carry and then Dupont goes left. There is a stray pass but they clean up and continue the attack with Ollivon ganing ground. A high tackle gifts France a penalty. There’s a cross kick with the advantage but it comes to nothing so Ramos will have another shot at goal, on a slight angle on the left just past the 22m.
That’s a coach killer. Sloppy from France who infringe on the lie-out as the backs were too close – not 10m back. Foley steps up and reduces the deficit to three points.
We’re back underway. Australia are in this but they have to sharpen up a the breakdown. Can they do it?
That was fun. Foketi’s try was no doubt the standout moment. An end to end showstopper that will be replayed for many years to come thanks to Wright’s electric pace.
But France have been the more clinical of the two teams, bossing the breakdown battle and remaining on the front foot. Marchand’s score late on has given them the lead and Ramos’s metronomic boot has kept the scoreboard ticking.
Back in a few.
A try from nothing right on the cusp of half time. Marchand is the beneficiary of a strong ruck over on the Australian line. He picks up and goes from close range, diving over the score under the posts.
It comes off the back of some messy stuff as Fickou gathers from broken play and chips ahead. Kellaway mops up and looks to have done a fine job but the French loose forwards are on him in a flash and push him off the ball. Marchand won’t score an easier try (which I believe is his first in international rugby).
Ramos makes no mistake as France take the lead at the break.
40 mins: That’s a mighty hit by Jelonch and Australia are turned over. But they get the ball back. Nope, France have it back. Back and forth stuff. No one wants it.
That is so typical. Australia do so well to defend the French maul, win the subsequent line-out but then go and give away a penalty on the ground for holding on. Not efficient enough cleaning that up on the ground. So Ramos steps up and makes it a one point game.
36 mins: Another penalty and France kick it into touch. A strong position to work the maul but Neville does well to defend it. Australia are very good on their maul defence. They win the ball back and get the line-out. Excellent defence.
Relentless pressure from France sees them win a penalty. Ramos, who has lightning in his laces, hammers this through the posts with an elegant swing of his boot. France starting to click in midfield. Nanty looking good with strong carries.
31 mins: France are messy off the back of their scrum with Dupont’s offload in the tackle finding nothing but air. They still keep the ball, though, and get over the gainline with Penaud working the space down the left. Penalty advantage as France ramp things up.
27 mins: It’s not exactly an exhibit of running rugby. I’m not complaining. I fancy a kicking contest and right now it’s probably Australia who are edging that battle. This one from Ikitau on the left wing is too long and France gather with a mark.
The resulting line-out is skew by Australia so France have the ball on the half-way line.
25 mins: Oh no. Foley makes a mess of that. Really shanked that penalty from the left and the ball misses by some distance. Will that be costly?
23 mins: Australia have it after some kick tennis that puts them in the ascendency. They have a penalty on the left and it’s within Foley’s range. Wokie is off his feet and hands Australia a chance to open their lead.. Some very good work from Kellaway from loose play. Those Aussie outside backs are impressing so far.
WHAT. A. TRY! Sensational. Australia have just scored a try that was birthed 75m back. A dink over the top from Dupont is fielded and then shifted left from the Wallabies. Wright’s pace on the left win was blistering and all of a sudden Paris opened up in front of him. Foketi ran a perfect support line and collected the well placed pass. He brushed off the final defender and scored under the posts. What a move. That happened in the blink of an eye.
Foley kicks the extras and oh my word Australia are up by 7.
It looked for certain that Ollivon had burrowed over but the replays show that he had committed the sin of a double movement. Fair play I reckon. Still, France will be annoyed that their work from the line-out that opened the space through the middle from strong carries by the pack didn’t yield a score.
14 mins: France will have the line-out 5m from the Aussie line. A good restart from the French gets the ball back and a little dink from Ramos lands in that awkward space for the covering fullback.
Atonio buys the dummy run and takes out Hooper without the ball. Smart play from the Aussies who are looking to make some pretty shapes out there. Foley kicks the points and brings us back level.
Boom! That was at least 50m on the angle but Ramos makes it look easy. A perfect strike as the ball sails over the upright, clearing it with room to spare.
9 mins: It’s a bit of a ding-dong affair. Both teams going to the boot and hoisting it hight. After a few exchanges, France isolate the tackler and win a penalty. It’s a fair way out but Ramos is going for it from the halfway line.
Dupont wins a penalty by getting his knees on the ground after being tackled. That compels the Australians to let him go and give him space. They don’t and instead hold on. So it’s a penalty. Ramos nudges it over without any fuss.
Foley slots that from the right to open up the scoring. Clean as you like as it slides through the poles.
3 mins: That’s a huge scrum from the Wallabies. They’ve just won a penalty by driving the French pack back into the Seine. Huge statement. This is within range on the right.
2 mins: France steal the ball on the ground and get the scrum. That’s off the back of some swift Aussie attack that went left and right.
PEEEEP!! Away we go!
Not long to go now. While you wait, why not read Angus’s write up on the Wallabies:
Tonight’s game will start with a minute’s silence after French rugby lost one of it’s favourite sons.
Just look at that team. The half-back pair. The back row. That centre combination. It’s a real shame Paul Willemse is out – likely for the rest of the Autumn Nations Series – but there’s star quality throughout and enough muscle to compensate for his absence.
France: Ramos; Penaud, Fickou, Danty, Moefana; Ntamack, Dupont (capt); Baille, Marchand, Atonio, Woki, Flament, Jelonch, Ollivon, Alldritt
Replacements: Mauvaka, Priso, Falatea, Taofifenua, Geraci, Macalou, Luca, Jalibert.
Nic White starts at scrum-half but the really exciting news (if you’re asking me) is Will Skelton on the bench. The big man is back. Can’t wait ti see him get stuck in.
Australia: Campbell; Kellaway, Ikitau, Foketi, Wright; Foley, White; Slipper (capt), Porecki, Tupou, Frost, Neville, Holloway, Hooper, Valetini.
Replacements: Fainga’a, Gibbon, Robertson, Skelton, Samu, Gordan, Paisami, Hodge.
At the pointy end of elite sport, winning is the only currency that has any value. Last week, the Wallabies weren’t impressive. They were clunky, disjointed and all over the place. But they won, beating Scotland by a single point. They were lucky. But for Blair Kinghorn’s misplaced penalty at the death, the Aussies would have lost.
But they didn’t. And that’s the point. Dave Rennie has for so long spoken of his team’s performance when results haven’t gone their way. He won’t care if this is the ugliest game of rugby you’ve ever seen if Australia manage to get over the line in Paris against a team that has a claim to being the best in the world.
Australia are underdogs. There’s no doubt about that. This French outfit ticks every box. They’re immense up front, have magicians in the midfield and killers out wide.
A win for the visitors would be a mighty upset. Even if it’s a dreadful spectacle.