Australia vs. France: Score and Lessons Learned from Melbourne Test
Australia 6-0 France
What a difference a week makes. After steamrollering a shambolic French side last week, Australia squeaked home by just two penalties to none in Melbourne in the second Test.
In a game that had none of the pace, passion and adventure of the second Test between New Zealand and England, Bernard Foley and Nic White slotted a penalty apiece in the second half of a game that lacked quality in all aspects.
France, at least, came to play properly and restored some respect after their non-performance in Brisbane.
This will not be a game to account for many man hours by the video analysts, but let’s see what we can glean from a rather dull, odd affair.
Hooper Shows Maturity as New Skipper
In a game where chances are at a premium and defence is on top, it can take the right decision at the right time to gain a slight advantage.
New skipper Michael Hooper deserves credit for making such a call 10 minutes after the break. Australia had been battering away at a resolute French defence without success, and when they won a penalty, Hooper opted for three points which put his team ahead.
We saw Chris Robshaw battle with himself about whether to go for goal or touch during the infancy of his England captaincy and, at one stage, ask the referee if he could change his mind.
Hooper backed himself with the game at 0-0, and his fly-half put his side ahead from where they were never caught.
Barnes Botches TMO Call
In the first half, Matt Toomua chipped over the top and challenged Brice Dulin for the bouncing ball on the try line.
Both players were genuinely going for the ball, and undoubtedly Toomua barged into the French full-back.
Ben McCalman was on hand to scored a try, but referee Wayne Barnes had a look at the replay and decided that contact constituted playing the man off the ball.
To this observer, it was a challenge between two men in a hugely physical contact sport. Take that away, and you have a game of touch. Try wrongly disallowed.
France Are Still...Well, France
Les Bleus remain predictable only for their unpredictability.
A shower last week, they turned up in Melbourne with a solid defence, a definable game plan and probably the best player on the field in Brice Dulin.
You would not have put money on any of those things being the case, given how awful they were last week.
The frustration for their fans is that they simply cannot achieve any semblance of consistency.