France ready to take on world

2014-11-16 15:49
Philippe Saint-Andre (AFP)

Paris - France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has insisted Les Bleus were ready to take on and beat the best in the world following their 29-26 victory over Australia.

A short-range try from Sebastien Tillous-Borde and stunning individual effort from young wing Teddy Thomas, alongside 16 points form the boot of Camille Lopez, allowed France to hold off a spirited fightback from an otherwise disjointed Australia on Saturday at the Stade de France in Paris.

It was Saint-Andre's second win against the Wallabies following a 33-6 blow-out in 2012, and went some way to making up for their disastrous tour Down Under in June where they conceded almost 100 points in three straight defeats.

This was a rare fillip for Saint-Andre, who won only his 14th match out of 31 in charge of Les Bleus.

"It was a very important match with less than a year to go before the World Cup to show the whole world that we are able to rival the best, that's for sure," said Saint-Andre, the former Toulon and Sale coach.

"The top level really is about details. Our kicking game, I think, was at 90 percent -- we missed just one penalty.

"We can compete at a very high level, we were aggressive in defence. We dared to try things when we had the ball and made the most of our periods on top with great success with the boot, whether Lopez or (Rory) Kockott.

"When you look at the domination we had and the number of penalties against us, and on top of that we got a yellow card and Australia didn't, then we have to keep progressing and show we can match the best in world."

France captain Thierry Dusautoir admitted the team should have won by more after totally dominating the first half, yet turning around at the break with a miserly one-point lead.

"For sure the last 15 minutes were too hairy, we let Australia back into it," he said.

"We let the match get away from us and made mistakes that let them bring the score back.

"But from the first half we dominated, apart from these last 15 minutes when we were held up by indiscipline, and that's something we have to improve on."

But he praised the team's fighting spirit to hold on for the victory despite playing the last six minutes with 14 men after replacement fly-half Remi Tales was sin-binned.

"When you're so close to attainting the objective at the end of the match, you know you can't let go," added Dusautoir.

"There was a good attitude, particularly (Uini) Atonio and (Benjamin) Kayser, who had knocks before the (last minute) scrum but gave their all so we could win the match.

"This type of sacrifice is important because you can only make domination pay if you have this kind of attitude."

Saint-Andre reserved special praise for 21-year-old Thomas, who only made his debut a week earlier against Fiji, scoring a hat-trick of tries.

Yet Saint-Andre warned against expecting too much from Thomas too soon, pointing to a couple of early mistakes he made before beating five players to score his try.

"As a former wing I can only admire the try," said Saint-Andre.

"On his first two touches he was a bit febrile, but he's 21. He caught the ball and put his foot in touch a bit too late (costing his side a line-out and about 40 yards of territory).

"But as for his try, you ask a wing to score tries and in two matches he has four tries.

"Most importantly, don't burn him, he's young, he has potential and has progressed a lot.

"He worked hard for the team and his talent allowed him to score a try, and for a wing it's hats off."

Read more on:    philippe saint-andre  |  rugby

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