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By ARU Media Unit
The Qantas Wallabies have continued where they left off from the 2013 Spring Tour winning their fifth match in row after defeating France 50-23 at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
Australia scored seven tries in an excellent display of running Rugby to Les Bleus’ two, to take a one match lead in the Castrol EDGE France series.
Australian debutant, Sam Carter was named the Castrol EDGE Strongest Player for his solid performance.
The match started with Bernard Foley putting Australia into the lead with a penalty goal right in front of the posts. The lead was short lived as France’s flyhalf, Frederic Michalak slotted a drop goal in the fourth minute to bring the score to 3-3.
An early injury to Qantas Wallabies captain, Stephen Moore meant that Tatufua Polota-Nau was the first replacement made by the Australian side and vice captain Michael Hooper took over the reins as on field captain for the remainder of the match.
The French attacked the Australian line with wave after wave of ball carriers, however a try-saving tackle from scrumhalf, Nic White and an intercept from flanker Michael Hooper meant that Australia was able to clear the ball out of their defensive zone.
In the 17th minute of the match Australia had an opportunity to take a penalty kick but opted for the attacking option off the line out, putting them in an excellent attacking position, five metres from the French line.
The decision was an inspired one with the Wallabies fullback Israel Folau crossing in the corner for the Wallabies first try of the night.
With a successful conversion from Bernard Foley, Australia extended their lead to 10-3 over France.
Australia exerted their dominance with the ball in hand controlling the next several phases of play and allowing Australia to move well within the French 22. Well executed passes from the Australian backs meant that Adam Ashley-Cooper crossed for Australia’s second try, taking Australia to 15-3.
The French were able to get their first penalty within striking range of the Wallabies posts, which flyhalf Frederic Michalak calmly converted to take the score to 15-6.
Coming off the back of a rolling maul, Australia again marched the French back within their own 22. Some quick ball movement from Foley and Tevita Kuridrani gave Michael Hooper the opportunity to score Australia’s third try of the match, out-running the covering French defence to score in the corner.
Qantas Wallabies centre Matt Toomua was gifted a try by the bumbling French defence when French debutant, Felix Le Bouhris fumbled the ball over the line without grounding it. Matt Toomua flew over the top to pounce on the ball and ensure that Australia scored their fourth try on the cusp of half time, going to the break 29-9.
The second half started strongly for the French, with a clear focus on attempting to control more possession as they held on to the ball for 17 phases. However resolute defence from the men in gold meant that the Wallabies repelled the French until they were able to regain possession.
In the 53rd minute of the match Australia looked to have scored a try through Adam Ashley-Cooper when he dived over the line, but it was ruled held up.
It was not long though before Les Bleus’ defence cracked again with a brilliant back line try with the ball moving from Toomua, Ashely-Cooper, Folau before being popped up to Nick Cummins to cross the white line for his first try of the match, taking Australia to 36 to France’s nine.
Australia’s sixth try came through replacement Kurtley Beale after a line break from outside centre Tevita Kuridrani meant that he was able to draw in the French fullback Hugo Bonneval and give the ball to an in space Beale to score.
With the French resistance crumbling, the Wallabies’ backs were making breaks at will with Israel Folau brushing away French tackles to send Pat McCabe over the try line in the corner.
Two late tries from the French gave some respectability to the scoreline but it could not mask what was a dominant performance by the Qantas Wallabies in the first match of the Castrol EDGE France series, winning 50-23.