Following France’s 41-17 win over Australia in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up match in Paris, here are our five takeaways.
The ruthless side of the Blues
It was as if a switch had been flipped, and France went wild in that second half, with players showing off their trick box as Damian Penaud and Antoine Dupont put on a show for their adoring fans. The Wallabies simply couldn’t live with what the Blues were producing. ran out comfortable winners 41-7.
Finding a way to score in the blink of an eye has become synonymous with this French side, and it was still evident today, with assists to Penaud and Gabin Villière showing the intelligence and confidence currently flowing through the veins of this team.
There are few other teams capable of such a level of ruthlessness in possession, and it is destructive for opponents, who suddenly find themselves adrift, as Australia did in Paris on Sunday.
Scrum, a concern for the Blues
If Fabien Galthie will be delighted with this big victory of 24 points, he will be concerned by the performance of his starting pack, and more particularly of his first line.
The Blues are deprived of their star pillar Cyril Baille; however, Jean-Baptiste Gros is a more than competent substitute and arguably a better scrum player, which was not evident today.
Taniela Tupou appeared to be back to her best in Paris, while Angus Bell continued his fine form in the Rugby Championship as the pair dismantled the home side’s scrum.
The Wallabies aren’t renowned for their scrum prowess, and given they’ve been largely neutral against the All Blacks, Galthie and William Servat will demand a big improvement for the opener in a fortnight.
There were also problems with Julien Marchand’s sideline shots in the first half, partly due to the noise at the Stade de France, something that is easily fixable and much better to learn before the World Cup than during. this one.
Discipline and goal kicks cost Wallabies dearly
At the break, France’s 16-5 lead looked bigger than it should have been and it was. The Wallabies were indeed set to take on the World Cup hosts; however, they were not making the most of their opportunities.
This was mainly due to the kick of rookie flyhalf Carter Gordon, who left eight points there, missing two penalties and his conversion.
France made the Wallabies pay for that first miss in the second minute as they would open the scoring four minutes later as Jonathan Danty crossed the line.
The reverse for France was true, as Thomas Ramos only missed twice from the tee the entire match while Melvyn Jaminet netted both of his kicks.
Even though the Wallabies improved their discipline – compared to Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup games – conceding just two more penalties than France, it still wasn’t enough.
They gave France six shots on goal, four of which went to Ramos; he missed one and Jaminet knocked down the other. The momentum change of Suliasi Vunivalu goes in the trash It certainly didn’t help the cause of the Wallabies, who were put 10 points further down the gap before Fraser McReight fought back, but the damage was already done.
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The Wallabies have their full-back
It’s a shirt up for grabs after Tom Wright was unceremoniously dropped from the squad by Eddie Jones after back-to-back starts in the Rugby Championship. Andrew Kellaway has since taken over and hasn’t looked back and in truth we expected nothing less from a composed and quality operator for either club or country.
Positioning he is superb and he offers a reliable boot and a smart running threat that often sees him making inroads into opposition defences. Although he didn’t rack up the yards tonight, his vision and passing execution to set up Mark Nawaqanitawase was top notch and he once again looked unfazed at the back.
All three Australian defenders shone in Paris as Vunivalu reacted well after their nightmarish game against the Springboks in Pretoria and Nawaqanitawase was still busy, but Kellaway exudes class.
Matthieu Jalibert claims his rights loud and clear
After the confirmation of Romain Ntamack’s exclusion from the Rugby World Cup, the two-man race between Antoine Hastoy and Matthieu Jalibert for the number 10 jersey has begun.
Hastoy got his opportunity against Fiji last week, and although he managed to take it, Jalibert knocked it out of the park.
The Bordeaux playmaker appeared to be Dupont’s natural choice as the pair tore through the Wallabies defence, with the fly-half topping yards gained by winning 100 in total.
They also gave the Aussies food for thought, with a genuine triple threat of running, kicking and passing.
If the question is who should start alongside Dupont against the All Blacks, Jalibert has provided the answer.