Australia V France: Score and Lessons Learned from Brisbane Test
Australia laid waste to a poor French side in Brisbane to get their Test season off to a flyer with a final score of Australia 50, France 23.
The Wallabies, fielding a new half-back pairing in Bernard Foley and Nic White along with debutante lock Sam Carter, ran riot over a shambolic French side missing some big names.
The result heaps pressure on coach Philippe Saint-Andre, who seemed at odds with his players’ assessment of where it had gone so horribly wrong.
"Australia were physical, but with a fair bit of urgency," Saint-Andre said, via ESPNScrum.com. "I think we panicked too much. Sometimes we needed to play to the space in our game, and not try to do too much against the speed of Australia."
But France captain Nicolas Mas said, via the ESPNScrum.com report, "It's not a question of panicking. When the team was in a position to convert pressure into points we were making errors. We have to continue to work at that and eliminate errors when we've got an opportunity to score."
Here’s what we learned.
Foley and White Show Promise
Australia coach Ewen McKenzie boldly dropped the experienced Will Genia in favour of young scrum-half Nic White, and he also gave a fist start to Foley at fly-half, leaving maverick Kurtley Beale on the bench.
The new duo hardly had a rough time of it against such a hapless French side, but they showed enough to suggest a bright future could lay ahead for them as the new architects of the Wallaby attack. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Phil Lutton was impressed:
White's kicking game was understated as he pressured the French under a barrage of quality possession, while Foley worked his way into the contest impressively, controlling play more and more as the Wallabies asserted their dominance across the park.
With White preferred over Genia and Cooper gone for the series with a shoulder injury, the duo have the opportunity to stake their claim as the long-term solution going forward towards the next World Cup.
French Failings Inexcusable
Philippe Saint-Andre faced the same challenge as Stuart Lancaster in that he was prevented from picking anyone involved in last weekend’s domestic league final.
But where England’s stand-ins played out of their skins, the French side sent out in Brisbane embarrassed itself.
They were almost nonexistent in attack and were slashed open at will by the rampaging Israel Folau.
It was a performance shocking in its ineptitude from players who seemed to have little interest in being out there.
Aussies Making Good Use of Their Potent Weapon
The game plan for Australia was a simple one—give it to Folau as often as possible. The full-back is arguably the most dangerous player on the planet in current form.
It was shrewd of McKenzie to have picked Foley, who gets the most out of Folau in Waratahs blue and repeated the trick in national colours.
Australia will have less space and keener opponents, but not many of them will be able to shackle Folau for the full 80 minutes.