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Host France breezes past Australia in warm-up rugby match

By RFI
Australia © EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP
MON, 28 AUG 2023 LISTEN
© EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP

Rugby World Cup hosts France eased past Australia 41-17 at the Stade de France in Paris on Sunday, in the final warm-up game before the tournament opens on 8 September.

Winger Damian Penaud scored twice within the space of 20 minutes during the second half for Les Bleus, who were never really threatened by the Wallabies.

Despite the victory, France coach Fabien Galthie warned that they team had to push themselves to the next level for the tournament.

"It was a warm-up game, it allowed us to develop," Galthie told TF1 television.

"But now we have to move on and go into competition mode. We have to go up a level across all factors," he added.

Matthieu Jalibert started at fly-half for the home side in a lineup which is also expected to face the All Blacks early next month.

Lock Will Skelton captained the Wallabies for the first time as they looked for their maiden victory in four games under Eddie Jones.

Rainy day

After two minutes, Australia fly-half Carter Gordon missed a penalty from 45m in overcast conditions in northern Paris.

Things worsened for the Melbourne Rebels playmaker on just his fifth Test appearance as Les Bleus centre Jonathan Danty crashed through him to open the scoring after a flat Antoine Dupont pass.

France full-back Thomas Ramos slotted the conversion to make it 7-0 before the visitors then responded.

Gordon helped set-up winger Mark Nawaqanitawase in the corner but 22-year-old fly-half missed the conversion.

By the interval, Ramos had pushed his side's advantage to 16-5 with three penalties as Gordon failed with another attempt.

Despite the lead, France looked sluggish compared to a majority of their performances since Galthie took over as head coach in December 2019.

Sin bin

Galthie reacted by changing his front five after 48 minutes and was rewarded shortly after as replacement lock Cameron Woki stole a dangerous Wallabies lineout.

Australia winger Suliasi Vunivalu was then sent to the sin bin and Ramos made it 19-5 with 27 minutes to play.

France's tails were up as captain Dupont underlined his brilliance with his second assist of the game, a delicate cross kick, to set up Penaud after Jalibert had tested the Australia defence.

Ramos slotted the extras and with the score at 26-5 the Stade de France crowd burst into life before Dupont left the field after an hour, the hosts protecting him less than two weeks out from meeting with the All Blacks.

Confidence

There was short-lived hope for Jones' side through flanker Fraser McReight's 63rd-minute try before Gabin Villiere crossed for the hosts, after another lovely cross kick, this time by Jalibert, looking comfortable as the man in France's No. 10 shirt.

Penaud kept his best effort for six minutes before time with a sublime solo try starting from the halfway line, almost as good as his match-winning touchdown against the same opponents in November.

Jones' men finished on a positive note as winger Vunivalu, standing in for the rested Marika Koroibete, dotted down with three minutes left.

"Within the camp we have a fair bit of confidence," Jones told reporters on Sunday. "We'd like to have a better win/loss record."

 "We're trying to play a different way and the results haven't been good enough but we do have a long term plan for the World Cup and that's what we're here for," he added.

In other warm-up matches, South Africa hammered New Zealand 35-7 on Friday and Fiji stunned England 30-22 on Saturday.

France open the World Cup by welcoming three-time winners New Zealand to the Stade de France on 8 September, a day before two-time winners Australia face Georgia at the same venue.

(with AFP)

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