On the balance of play over the 80 minutes Australia were not undeserved victors, but the manner of those closing few minutes, deary me. What the heck were France doing!?
Full-time: Australia 23-21 France
That was extraordinary. France don’t secure the lineout cleanly, but they do enough to retain possession, whereupon they throw the ball like headless poulets, desperate to find someone who can kick to touch to end the game. But they can’t! And the ball goes to ground, McDermott following through and Australia have the turnover deep in French territory. And then there;s the penalty advantage! Oh my word! But Australia keep rolling, they want the try, not the penalty, phase after phase, bodies strewn under the posts – this is an incredible ending! The Wallabies can’t find a hole in this defence so they spin the ball back for the drop-goal, which is smothered, and the penalty is awarded. Lolesio can’t miss from under the posts.
WHAT ON EARTH!
79 mins: Australia 20-21 France – France secure the lineout – just – then begin to grind on their own 22. They do enough, then kick into Australia’s half. Banks leads the charge back, McDermott it lively, but France’s defence is up quickly and firmly. Oddly, Paisami goes to his boot and kicks away possession. France boot clear to hand Australia a lineout near halfway. One final play in this match remaining…
78 mins: Australia 20-21 France – How costly will that miss prove to be? Was that the moment? The Wallabies continue to push and Tupou finds a break that sets up space for Australia to attack down the right – but the ball doesn’t go to hand! Agonising for fans in Suncorp Stadium.
77 mins: Australia 20-21 France – Deep in the left corner the Wallabies secure the lineout then recycle play. After a couple of runs beyond the gainline France hit back and begin pushing Australia back. What does McDermott do? He feeds Lolesio in the pocket…. and he misses the field goal!
76 mins: Australia 20-21 France – Now Australia earn the scrum penalty to tighten the screw further. France are behind 13-5 now in the penalty count. Australia have a lineout on France’s 22.
75 mins: Australia 20-21 France – Oh France, what are you doing!? Slow grinding play down the right wing looks to be sucking the life out of the contest, then a simple pass infield is shelled by Falatea and Australia have their tails up again. That was a poor knock-on.
73 mins: Australia 20-21 France – But that momentum evaporates when Paisami is penalised at the breakdown following a bullocking run from Koroibete. France kick downfield.
72 mins: Australia 20-21 France – All the momentum with Australia again. France are tightening, as evidenced by a shocking shank in a one-sided kicking duel to concede a lineout on halfway.
TRY! Australia 20-21 France (Hooper 71)
The lineout is fine and the multi-phase play thereafter is fast and sharp with McDermott finding forwards on his shoulder time and again. Wilson is important, Tupou goes close, then Hooper takes responsibility himself and spins under the melee to touch down. Lolesio narrows the deficit to one point. Massive moment in this match. Plenty of time for the Wallabies to finish this off.
68 mins: Australia 13-21 France – France spill the high kick allowing Australia to attack with a penalty advantage 35m out. They use it to head left but Koroibete runs out of space. They go back to the infringement and kick to the left corner. All to do in the final ten minutes.
68 mins: Australia 13-21 France – It’s opposite day in midfield with a Wallaby scrum becoming a free-kick for an early French push. McDermott hares off into a gap but he’s isolated and France regain possession. They soon cough it back up though with an errant pass into touch on the right. This has been a match between two rusty outfits.
66 mins: Australia 13-21 France – Australia concede the midfield scrum, then a free-kick at the set piece. France, perhaps wary of Tupou, avoid a reset and instead pump a mighty garryowen that Banks does superbly to claim under serious pressure. The Wallabies can’t back up with quick ball though and a rash pass wide to the right slows the phase, France move up quickly, and any semblance of attack grinds to a halt.
Penalty! Australia 13-21 France (Jaminet 63)
That is a monster penalty from Jaminet! Fully 45m near the left touchline. Huge three points for France.
Australia have had the upper hand for most of the night but France continue to retain that handy margin.
62 mins: Australia 13-18 France – Koroibete gets Australia rolling straight away from the restart but as the Wallabies shift from left to right they concede a penalty at the breakdown and France are happy to slow the game down and invite fullback Jaminet to kick for three points.
Penalty! Australia 13-18 France (Lolesio 60)
Never in doubt. Big final quarter coming up.
60 mins: Australia 10-18 France – However, Tupou again rises to the occasion and earns a scrum penalty Australia’s way. Lolesio will have a look from a long way out.
59 mins: Australia 10-18 France – Australia are playing catch-up rugby and they’re lacking the grind that proved so powerful late in the first half. It’s typified by a knock-on at the breakdown in centre-field and France can milk the clock with a scrum.
57 mins: Australia 10-18 France – France run from behind the scrum in front of their posts and it almost ends in tears with a poor pass near the right touchline. They secure the ball but Australia are up in their faces, Koroibete nailing his opposite number, and then the attempted box kick is parried off the boot into touch.
55 mins: Australia 10-18 France – It’s a solid lineout but France counter hard, slowing play down. Australia look to have lost it, but the ball eventually comes out and Paisami dabs through a magical left-footed chip for two gold chasers. This has to be a try! But it isn’t! Wright looks to be first to the bouncing ball but it takes a wicked bounce and wrongfoots the winger who can only knock-on. So cruel for the Wallabies.
54 mins: Australia 10-18 France – The scrum rotates rapidly, courtesy of the mass of substitute Tupou, and Australia kick to the corner for a 5m lineout. Shades of the pressure that led to the Wallabies scoring in the first half here.
53 mins: Australia 10-18 France – France make a mess of the restart and Australia have an attacking scrum on the French 22 near the right touchline.
Penalty! Australia 10-18 France (Carbonel 52)
Carbonel cannot miss from there and France are back more than a converted try ahead.
The tsunami of substitutes is underway.
51 mins: Australia 10-15 France – Again it’s slow, but busy, from France, and a series of pick and drives sees them rumble forward until Hooper is unable to get back onside from the breakdown quickly enough, and the penalty is awarded.
50 mins: Australia 10-15 France – It’s a textbook scrum from the Wallabies and off the back Banks kicks down to the France 22 for a lineout. It’s solid but slow from the French, who are forced to box kick in traffic – but it pays off. Banks’ return kick is a shocking shank that carries only ten metres or so and straight into touch. From nowhere France have an attacking lineout on Australia’s 22.
48 mins: Australia 10-15 France – A nice kick down towards Australia’s left corner earns France some territory and they establish their first solid attacking platform in a while, only to knock-on at the breakdown and gift Australia a relieving scrum.
46 mins: Australia 10-15 France – Australia steal an overthrown lineout, then are handed a penalty advantage. The ball is shifted quickly to the right where Banks chips and chases but the French defence gets back in the nick of time. Australia building nicely now.
Penalty! Australia 10-15 France (Lolesio 44)
Australia are not out of possession for long. France try to run the ball out of defence but Wilson lays a strong tackle, Hooper is first to the breakdown, and yet another penalty goes Australia’s way. Lolesio dabs over the simple three points. The Wallabies are grinding their way into this and you now expect them to run over the top of an ill-disciplined France.
42 mins: Australia 7-15 France – The lineout following the kick is solid and Toomua and Paisami both cross the gain line with bursts. This is crisp and powerful from Australia. But they can’t find any space on the outside and when they eventually feed Valetini on the left he’s ushered into touch.
42 mins: Australia 7-15 France – … they can. Guess what? France concede a penalty. Philip does well to take the kick-off then hold the ball in for a maul that France can only interfere with illegally.
The teams are back out for the second half. Can the Wallabies continue their momentum from before half-time?
Australia started slowly but grew into the half and ended it with all the momentum. France became increasingly ragged as fatigue set in and conceded penalties at regular intervals. They retain the advantage following Villiere’s two-try burst, but after profiting from Wallaby mistakes they offered little else in possession.
Half-time: Australia 7-15 France
Odd play from France, who seem to be playing for half-time 30 seconds out, and the lack of intensity results in a turnover followed by a penalty. The kick after the hooter sends the Wallabies to the 22, but the lineout throw is overcooked and France accept the break.
39 mins: Australia 7-15 France – The Wallabies forwards grind another hardworking multi-phase play through the guts but a poor pass form Gordon robs it of any momentum. Eventually play is shifted to the short side, the right, but it all gets too cute and Wright runs out of space.
37 mins: Australia 7-15 France – Australia’s defence is under a smidgen of pressure following the restart but France concede yet another penalty, this time at the breakdown, to gift the Wallabies a relieving kick from their 22.
TRY! Australia 7-15 France (Paenga-Amosa 35)
This near 10 minute attack has all been in Australia’s left corner of attack but this time they kick to the right corner, and it pays immediate dividends! The lineout is slick, the mail is secure, and off the side Philip gains a great roll on and behind him Brandon Paenga-Amosa has the honour of touching down for the try. Very well deserved for the sustained pressure, and celebrated with plenty of relief.
Lolesio kicks a very tidy conversion from just inside the right touchline.