Hooper hails 'special' Wallabies win

Sun, 18/07/2021, 05:00 am
Murray Wenzel - AAP
by Murray Wenzel - AAP
Michael Hooper has praised his young side. Photo: Getty Images

It shaped as a disaster but could be the making of Dave Rennie's Wallabies as they celebrate a defiant series win over France and now eye the All Blacks in New Zealand next month.

A controversial red card to winger Marika Koroibete - Australia's best player across the first two games of the deadlocked series - threatened to spoil the contest just five minutes into Saturday's decider against France.

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Instead Australia rallied, 21-year-old five-eighth Noah Lolesio scoring a try and kicking the winning penalty as he amassed 23 of his side's points in a 33-30 victory for a ninth-straight win at Suncorp Stadium.

Down a man for 75 minutes, they defended stoutly and showed progress when their forward pack overpowered the French, who produced sublime rugby of their own.

Tate McDermott also scored and was effective in his first start while lock Darcy Swain (24) and outside centre Len Ikitau (22) also enjoyed their first Wallabies starts.

Rennie was scathing of what he described as France's "milking" of any high contact post-game, questioning whether it was in the spirit of the game as he aims to fight Koroibete's charge.

Hooper links with McDermott to bag a try

But he was equally effusive of his men, who he said had given him plenty more to ponder ahead of their next Test against the All Blacks on August 7 at Eden Park.

"Oh God I don't know about that, but I appreciate it," he said when asked if the win with 14 men would be generation-defining.

"Certainly it was massive for us.

"We've been building; we were scratchy first up (in a fortunate two-point win), better in Melbourne (in a two-point loss) but turned over too much pill then tonight was just gutsy.

"We put a lot of young men on the park tonight and they repaid us in spades. 

"We're creating good depth and competition for spaces and this is massive for us because it gives you belief and highlights how tight they are as a group."   

Lolesio showed poise to slot the match-winner - after missing his previous kick in what was his only miss of the series - with 90 seconds to go while Swain won the penalty to seal the contest on the buzzer.

Ikitau paired in the centres with 23-year-old Hunter Paisami, Rennie making the bold move to leave experienced No.12 Matt Toomua on the bench until the final moments. 


ALL HEART: 14-man Wallabies claim thriller

FIVE THINGS: Swain, forwards shine

THE INCIDENT: Koroibete red card reaction

Captain Michael Hooper, playing in his 55th Test as captain, ranked it among his favourite wins.

"It's pretty special; you see our guys react when they're in the changeroom, it's just a huge reward to see smiles on faces," he said.

"It means a lot to us and the crowd as well; we walk around the stadium tonight ... seeing genuine happy faces and we're able to supply that to a crowd tonight.

"It's pretty special, something that will stay with us for a long time."

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