Australia v France
By Martin Gibbes of
June 28, 2008

AUSTRALIA scored three tries in the opening 22 minutes of the second half to beat France 34-13 in yet another unconvincing display at ANZ Stadium.

After a scratchy first half, the Wallabies turned on the style between the 42nd and 62nd minutes to race out to an unassailable lead. The gallant French, missing a number of experienced players, fought back and were rewarded with a try late on, and could have scored a couple more if not for some desperate Wallabies defence.


The game is over. Thanks for being part of the coverage.

79: The French can take plenty of heart into the next Test in Brisbane. They have fought hard after looking down and out early in the second half. The Wallabies have improved in the second half after a disappointing first 40 minutes and their defence has been very sound. They just haven't been cohensive enough in attack.

78: The game has slowed right down. Plenty of stoppages. The French have been pounding the line in the last 10 minutes or so but with no reward.

72: Alan asks a very pertinent question: "How is the Aussie scrum holding up?"

The scrum really hasn't been in play in the second half. Both teams are very tired and there is a lot of breaks and missed tackles. I wouldn't be surprised to see another try or two.

67: It's probably best not to deceived by the scoreline. The Wallabies haven't really been that good, although the second-half has been much better, Geez, they need to improve further to get neat NZ and SA.

65: TRY: The French are pressing again on the back of a couple of penalties. Palisson. the little winger, crashes into a great Mortlock tackle but his momentum carries him over. The try is converted and the French have some respectability.

64: Mumm on. Smith off for a breather.

62: TRY: Sterling Mortlock scores from an intercept. His 26th try for the Wallabies. The French are a well beaten side now and are getting very sloppy. Giteau converts. How many points can they score?

59: The French have shown their inexperience in the backline by wasting a number of chances. Their forwards are tiring noticeably after putting up a sterling effort

56: Ryan Cross on. Berrick Barnes off.

55: Three minutes of intense pressure on the Wallabies line and finally the pressure tells. But it's the French who crack and the Aussies get a penalty.

52: The French forwards control a breakdown near the Aussie line. They have at least four sttempts to score but can't get through. Desperate Wallabies defence stops them but they get the penalty, The pressure is still on.

51: A rare French foray into Australian territory. The visitors have been let down by some errors and ill discipline. The Wallabies concede a penalty and this is France's chance.

48: Wallabies on the attack again after a French error. They are a different side in the second half. The forwards are working as a cohesive unit and the French are noticeably tiring. Penalty and the Aussies are taking a shot at goal, which Giteau kicks.

46: TRY. Plenty of pressure being applied by the Aussie forwards and a beautiful ball from Giteau sets up a try for Elsom. Giteau converts and have the floodgates opened?

45: And the Wallabies are nearly in again. Berrick Barnes is stopped right on the line. The referee goes upstairs again and he rules that Barnes was held up. Close call but the pressure is still on.

Thanks to Bruce from Mongolia: "Watch the next half; the Wallabies will kick into gear, so enjoy the action. Thanks for the updates mate; I miss the rugby a lot. "

42: TRY. Sharpe's try is confirmed and the Aussies start the second half perfectly. Giteau converts and its 17-6.

41: Burgess breaks free after the Wallabies won a lineout. They pile on the pressure from about a metre out and it looks like Nathan Sharpe has scored. They are going up for a look.

40: Phil Waugh on for Palu, who has a shoulder injury.

A frustrated Andrew says: "I am in the UK and trying to find a audio feed for the game as the TV is busted, having no luck although it sounds like the Aussies are making heavy work of it."

They certainly are. I wonder what magic Robbie can weave for this second half.

Paul emails in from that great rugby outpost of Oslo, Norway: "Sounds like our backline are doing nothing, with our line up we should be killing them out wide. We need good constructive ball up front but they also need to do something with it! At least we finally put some points on the board."

Great analysis, Paul, for someone who can''t see pictures.

Alan drops us a line from the UK: "Watching the scores come up on the computer at work. Good luck to both sides. Hope everyone is enjoying a cracking match. It sounds like it’s a bit of a tense match."

Let's hope the second half is better, Alan.

40: It hasn't been a good first half. Very sloppy, especially in attack. Australia drop the ball from the re-start and then France aimlessly kick it high, thankfully for them, the Australians drop it. The French nearly score with a nice move right on halftime but get the penalty anyway. Yachvili kicks the openalty and it halftime.

36: TRY: Finally, the pressure told. A Cameron Shepherd break eventually leads to Giteau breaking the line and scoring under the posts. The French have done a lot of work early in defence and are starting to look tired. Giteau converts and the Wallabies have a lead.

34: Arghh!!! A Giteau error spoils another promising move.

Denise sends in: "You can never under estimate the French - I was worried about the comments I read that Oz were going to win by a country mile"

They are playing well. Their defence especially is causing problems. The referee is Marius Jonker from South Africa.

30: The Wallabies penalised again at the breakdown when in a scoring position. The French fail to find touch, looking for too much distance, and the Wallabies are back on the attack. Burgess' speed of delivery from the breakdown is a concern. Berrick Barnes loses his footing in a great position.

Thanks to Tom in France: "Greetings to all ! The match is only on paid TV or on radio here in France, shame !"

28: Adam Ashley-Cooper is on for Tuqiri.

26: Wow, the Aussies are taking their time to click into gear tonight. The ball is spread wide and the backs again put it down. The French are right in this game. Australia are getting frustrated.

25: The French are showing their class in the forwards and the Aussies can't really match them at the breakdown at the moment.

24: The Wallabies are deep in attack but, frustratingly, are not doing anything constructive with it. They spread it wide but the ball is spilled. To compound it, Giteau is then penalised.

Connie sends in an email: "Greetings from NZ.....sounds like it's going to be a long night....hope the wallabies settle in fast and get their game on track"

I hope so, too. They are looking very jittery at this stage, though.

20: Huge hit by Rocky Elsom and Wycliff Palu on the French full-back but then Elsom gives away a penalty in kicking range. Pepito Elhorga, the full-back, is really struggling. Anyway, Dimitri Yachvili kicks the goal and the scores are once again level.

19: The Wallabies open the scoring through the left boot of Giteau. The home side have enjoyed plenty of possession but, as yet, have done nothing with it.

15: Again, the Wallabies make nothing of it and give away a penalty that puts the French on the attack. But they also give away a penalty. The Wallabies then attack and get a penalty in kicking range

14: It's all very scrappy. Kicks are not making touch and the ball has hit the ground more than it's stayed in hands. The French make another mistake to put the Wallabies on the attack.

12: Giteau tried to release Tuqiri with a cross-field kick but the flying winger dropped it over the sideline. Really, that's been the story of the night so far.

10: The French have been very physical in defence and especially at the breakdown, not giving the Wallabies any time at all. Geez, the French have a young-looking backline, and they aren't scared to chance their arm either.

7: The Wallabies have shown very little so far. Luke Burgess got horribly isolated down the blind-side and was bundled into touch. The French are certainly holding their own.

4: The young French winger, Alexis Palisson, who taunted Tuqiri all week, showed his class in a very promising move. The French are on the attack but give away a penalty.

3: The French penalised for off-side in kicking range for Giteau. But the usually dependable five-eighth pushes it wide from right in front. The Wallabies looking very nervous and disjointed early.

1: Australia on the attack early but turn the ball over in a promising position and the ball is cleared. The Wallabies really didn't do anything there with good ball.

2005: We are underway. Bad mistake by the French from the kick-off puts the Wallabies on the attack.

2000: Teams: Australia: 15. Cameron Shepherd (Western Force), 14. Peter Hynes (Queensland Reds), 13. Stirling Mortlock (ACT Brumbies) (Capt) 12. Berrick Barnes (Queensland Reds), 11. Lote Tuqiri (NSW Waratahs), 10. Matt Giteau (Western Force), 9. Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs), 8. Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs), 7. George Smith (ACT Brumbies), 6. Rocky Elsom (NSW Waratahs), 5. Nathan Sharpe (Western Force) 4. James Horwill (Queensland Reds), 3. Al Baxter (NSW Waratahs), 2. Stephen Moore (Queensland Reds), 1. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs).
Replacements: 16. Adam Freier (NSW Waratahs), 17. Ben Alexander (Brumbies), 18. Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs), 19. Phil Waugh (NSW Waratahs), 20. Sam Cordingley (Queensland Reds), 21. Ryan Cross* (Western Force), 22. Adam Ashley-Cooper (ACT Brumbies).

France: 15 Pepito Elhorga (Agen), 14 Alexis Palisson (Brive), 13 François Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), 12 Damian Traille (Biarritz), 11 Benjamin Thiéry (Biarritz), 10 Benjamin Boyet (Bourgoin), 9 Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz), 8 Louis Picamoles (Montpellier), 7 Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz), 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier), 5 Lionel Nallet (Castres) (Capt), 4 Sébastien Chabal (Sale, England), 3 Benoît Lecouls (Biarritz), 2 Sébastien Bruno (Sale, England), 1 Lionel Faure (Sale, England)
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Kayser (Stade Francais), 17 Renaud Boyoud (Dax), 18 David Couzinet (Biarritz), 19 Matthieu Lièvremont (Dax), 20 Sébastien Tillous-Borde (Castres), 21 Thibault Lacroix (Albi), 22 David Janin (Bourgoin).

Referee is Marius Jonker from South Africa.

1955: Head-to-head in Australia: Australia have won 11. France 4 and one draw.

1950: Not surprisingly, everyone is picking a pretty hefty Wallabies victory, but I'm not so sure. French flair can really cause problems to southern hemisphere teams.

1945: Robbie Deans has just been on Fox Sports and said an improved kicking game is the key to success. He knows the experienced French pack will be a handful and he has been working hard to tighten up the ruck and maul concerns.

1940: Welcome. Bonjour! The French should provide a pretty stern tonight for the Wallabies even though they are missing plenty of experienced players. Send us your thoughts, predictions or discussion points. About 20 minutes before kick-off.