A young team on the rise no longer flighty but assured, says Deans

Australia's James O'Connor scores a try against France at the Stade de France. Source: AP

WALLABIES coach Robbie Deans insists he saw it coming.

It was a coming-of-age performance his young side turned on in Paris yesterday to beat France 59-16 and cap the best spring tour by Australia since the 1984 Grand Slam.
Certainly had the Wallabies completed all the breaks they made against Italy in Florence, this virtuoso display might have arrived one week sooner.
Still, it gave Deans something to work on in the build-up to this Test against France: patience.
It really was its own reward on a chilly, memorable night in Paris. "This has been coming for us for a while," said Deans, deadpanning to the end despite the fact his side had just inflicted the greatest defeat in history on Les Bleus on French soil, scoring more points against them than any other team in the 656 Tests France has played, save for the 2007 All Blacks, 61-10 runaway winners in Wellington.

"We have a young group of men who are becoming more experienced and that showed in this performance. Where they have been flighty in the past, they're now assured."
Yes, the Wallabies would have been "earthed", as Deans put it, by their own record loss to England at Twickenham a fortnight ago, but some of the football they produced to defeat the All Blacks, Wales, Italy and now Six Nations champion France on this tour is as good as the modern game of rugby has produced.
It flies in the face of every time-worn rugby tenet that a side bedevilled by such a weak scrum could still turn on the display the Wallabies unleashed yesterday.
Much as the 79,175 spectators were willing their side on and then, perversely, willing them off with jeering whistles and hoots, there were audible gasps from the knowledgeable Stade de France crowd as the Australians destroyed their heroes.
On one hand, the audience knew incalculable damage was being inflicted on the proud Gallic rugby psyche; on the other they also were aware they were watching the best spectacle in world rugby, the Wallabies backline in full cry.
The French players were shattered, not bothering to stay on the pitch for the presentation of Le Trophy du Bicentenaire to Rocky Elsom.
Not that the Wallabies hung around either, but instead went off to the far side of the field to thank a small but noisy knot of supporters.
Meanwhile, in the post-match press conference French coach Marc Lievremont, now 0 from 5 against Deans, was suffering from a severe case of Les Bleus.
No doubt he was rueing the fact he had stacked his own backline with lumbering heavyweights who never looked like coming up with any answers.
Asked how long it would take France to recover from this humiliating defeat, a disconsolate Lievremont was himself struggling to find an answer.
"Before now we've always been able to bounce back, but I don't know if we can do it," he said.
Captain Thierry Dusautoir similarly was in a state of shock. "We were completely outplayed in the second half. We were non-existent," said the Toulouse flanker.
"We became disjointed, left them a lot of space. We completely lost the plot. We failed completely. We just weren't there, full stop."
Yet with France leading 16-13 at the 47-minute mark and its scrum inflicting all-too-familiar humiliation on the Australian pack, Elsom had no more clue of what was about to unfold than anyone, save possibly for Deans.
"We felt we were going to have as much space as in the first half, which wasn't much," Elsom admitted. "We thought we'd have to grind it out.
"It didn't work out that way, but we were prepared for that."
In the end, the Wallabies were able to outflank the heavyweight French backline, with wingers Drew Mitchell and James O'Connor scoring collectively four tries from overlaps out wide.
But the real damage was done earlier, with the Wallabies' initial breaches coming on the inside.
It was the straight running of O'Connor on to Berrick Barnes's neat inside pass that made the initial bust that produced Adam Ashley-Cooper's fourth-minute try and from that moment, it was almost impossible to fault the running lines of the Australians.
None was more exemplary in this regard than Ashley-Cooper, who made up for quiet outings against England and Italy with a thunderous performance in Paris to deservedly earn the man of the match award.