Two tries from flying winger Damian Penaud helped World Cup hosts France complete their preparations for next month’s tournament with a 41-17 victory over Australia on Sunday (Aug 27), a result that handed the Wallabies a fifth successive defeat.
It was the kind of statement the French would have been hoping to make a fortnight before they kick off the World Cup at the same Stade de France venue, although they only outscored the youthful Australians by four tries to three.
The boot of fullback Thomas Ramos made an emphatic contribution with 16 points, condemning Australia to yet another loss under coach Eddie Jones.
Jonathan Danty and Gabin Villiere scored France’s other tries while Mark Nawaqanitawase, Fraser McReight and Suliasi Vunivalu were Australian try scorers.
Sunday’s test concluded a busy month of warm-up matches that have set up an intriguing tournament from Sept. 8-Oct. 28, which begins with France taking on New Zealand.
France were on the board after seven minutes with a slick move off the line out as Thibaud Flament’s catch was swiftly passed down to Antoine Dupont to whip it over to Danty, who burst through three tacklers to go over for a try that looked well-rehearsed on the training pitch.
Within six minutes, however, Australia had hit back as they sucked in the French defence and then swung the ball out wide to left wing Nawaqanitawase to go over for a simple try in the corner.
Australian errors allowed Ramos to send over a steady stream of successful penalties and be 16-5 up at halftime as Wallabies flyhalf Carter Gordon missed three first half kicks.
It took 16 minutes into the second before France scored a second try with Du Pont’s clever cross field kick falling perfectly for Penaud to casually dot down and open up a 26-5 lead.
But the Australians threatened to get themselves back into the game as McReight burst through the defence to dive under the post for their second try, in the 61st minute, after Nawaqanitawase had caught a high ball to set up the opportunity.
Three minutes later France had their third try with Matthieu Jalibert’s short kick to the corner sitting up perfectly for winger Villiere to score.
Penaud then showed his class as turnover ball, following one of numerous Wallaby handling errors, allowed him to chip the ball ahead, sprint past the defence and collect for a classy score – his 29th test try.
France put the cherry on top with a long range penalty from Melvyn Jaminet marking the end of the game and taking them past 40 points.