EWEN MCKENZIE’S AUSTRALIA ran in seven tries as they hammered France 50-23 at Suncorp Stadium in the first game of a three-Test series.
Les Bleus’ performance was very poor, particularly in defence, where the basic skill of tackling appeared to have been given optional status. The Wallabies were clinical in punishing the abject France performance as seven different players dotted down.
Israel Folau scored the Wallabies’ first try as he took a short pass from James Slipper and then slipped the challenges of Yoann Huget and Nicolas Mas to cross for his 11th international try in 16 caps.
Adam Ashley-Cooper was next to touch down as he cantered over from a Matt Toomua assist, after Gaël Fickou came close to intercepting. Michael Hooper then scored the Wallabies’ third try after a contentious pass from Tevita Kuridrani, which referee Craig Joubert took some time to make a decision over in tandem with his TMO.
Just before half time, Matt Toomua was on hand to benefit from a comical piece of play by France scrum-half Maxime Machenaud and wing Félix le Bourhis. Racing Métro halfback Machenaud threw a shocking pass to his teammate behind the French tryline, with le Bourhis fumbling the ball and allowing Toomua to apply the crucial downward pressure.
Nick Cummins was the next try scorer for Australia when he finished off a sweeping move by the Wallabies in the 55th minute, as McKenzie’s backs showed superb handling to benefit from front-foot ball.
With France seeming to mentally switching off as they trailed 43-9, the Wallabies again pounced for another excellent try. Substitute Kurtley Beale fired a long pass to Kuridrani, who beat one tackle before finding Beale on his outside shoulder.
Replacement centre Pat McCabe finished off the Australian try scoring in the 71st minute, allowing out-half Bernard Foley to add his sixth conversion of the game. As the Wallabies eased up, France managed to notch tries through Morgan Parra and a scrum penalty try.
Despite those late positives, Saint-André will be concerned ahead of the second Test, even if he is likely to welcome the likes of Brice Dulin, Thierry Dusautoir and Rémi Talès back into his team.