France hold on to beat Oz

2014-11-16 01:41
Teddy Thomas (AFP)

Paris - France have held off a spirited Australia fightback to win their one-off Test match 29-26 at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday.

Having dominated the first half with tries from scrum-half Sebastien Tillous-Borde and wing Teddy Thomas's fourth score in two appearances for Les Bleus, France were relieved to hear the final hooter when down to 14 men as Adam Ashley-Cooper and Rob Simmons crossed the whitewash in reply.

It was sweet revenge for the hosts who lost all three matches on their tour to Australia in June.

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre suggested it topped the 33-6 success against the Wallabies two years ago.

"In 2012 the score was impressive for us, but this Australia drew with New Zealand and last week won in Wales," he said.

"They've got lots of variety in their game, more than they had in 2012. Today it's a great win but we won't get carried away."

Australia coach Michael Cheika blamed errors for the defeat.

"There were too many simple mistakes at key moments. We didn't give ourselves an opportunity to get on the front foot," he said.

"We had really good chances to launch attacks from set-pieces or counter-attacks and we regularly turned it over."

Australia almost caught the hosts napping from the kick-off but they were denied a try on 30 seconds when Simmons knocked on.

However, for the next 20 minutes, it was all France.

They almost scored on five minutes after a fabulous chip ahead from fly-half Camille Lopez picked out Yoann Huget, who wriggled out of a challenge and fed Scott Spedding inside, only for the South African-born full-back to be bundled into touch a couple of yards short of the line.

The reprieve was short-lived as from their line-out Australia knocked on, giving France a scrum.

The buzzing hosts needed only a couple of phases for Tillous-Borde to find a hole in Australia's disorganised defence and dive over from a couple of yards out.

Yet within a few minutes the hosts were penalised for going to ground and Bernard Foley kicked a penalty.

Lopez, though, was dictating affairs, and he made a break before his grubber almost set up Huget in the corner.

France piled on the pressure, Australia got caught offside, and Lopez kicked a penalty on 17 minutes.

Yet again they infringed almost immediately, Alexandre Menini pinged for not rolling away and Foley cut the gap with a penalty.

There were 20 minutes gone and France, who could have scored three tries, were leading only 10-6.

But Thomas then lit up the Stade de France just as he had done in Marseille a week earlier with his debut hat-trick against Fiji.

Australia turned over ball on 29 minutes and Tillous-Borde quickly fed Guilhem Guirado who shifted it on to Thomas.

The wing was penned in wide on the left but despite being surrounded by five or six gold shirts, Thomas cut inside, accelerated, and then did scrum-half Nick Phipps on the outside to score a stunning try, with Lopez converting again.

Yet from their first foray into French territory since the first minute, Australia scored as Phipps popped the ball to Ashley-Cooper to cut inside some weak French tackling -- they outnumbered the Aussies three to two -- to score.

Foley kicked the extras and then on the stroke of half-time landed a penalty to send the dominated visitors in at the break only 17-16 down.

France brought on battering ram Mathieu Bastareaud at half-time and his break helped set up a penalty that Lopez knocked over on 44 minutes.

Two more Lopez penalties either side of one for Foley stretched the home side's lead back out to seven points.

It was a scrappy second period and 10 minutes from time South African-born replacement scrum-half Rory Kockott kicked a long-range penalty to give France breathing space.

Yet moments later Australia exploited an injury to Thomas, with Ashley-Cooper streaking down the vacated wing and almost scoring.

France only survived by infringing and Remi Tales, who was on for Lopez, was sent to the sin bin with seven minutes to play.

Australia made the extra man count, though, as Simmons finished off a flowing move with Foley converting to bring the tourists back to just three points behind.

Yet they ran out of time as France held on doggedly.

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