France's Vincent Debaty (L) and Pascal Pape celebrate after
beating Australia during their rugby test at the Stade de
France stadium in Saint-Denis, near Paris. REUTERS/Gonzalo
Frederic Michalak triumphed on his home return as he
inspired Les Bleus to a 33-6 demolition of Australia to end a
five-match losing streak against the Wallabies.
Michalak, who had not played on home soil in the French shirt
since a Six Nations game against Ireland in 2010, was
replaced in the closing stages to a standing ovation after
kicking 15 points and brilliantly setting up Wesley Fofana
for France's second of three tries.
Philippe Saint-Andre's side relied on an utterly dominant
scrum but also the raw power of Louis Picamoles, who scored
the first try, to prevail against Australia thanks also to a
penalty try and a Morgan Parra penalty.
The visitors, unbeaten against France since 2005, had their
chances late in the first half but poor execution meant they
left the pitch with only two Mike Harris penalties to show
"We had a revenge to take against Australia," Michalak told
reporters, referring to a 59-16 defeat France suffered at the
hands of the Wallabies two years ago.
"Against such a team, we had to play at a high level. but we
must look forward, because it is going to be as hard against
Argentina (next Saturday)."
"France played very well and thoroughly deserved to win,"
said Nathan Sharpe.
France's biggest win over Australia since a 34-6 victory at
the Parc des Princes in 1976 was a huge boost as they look to
improve from their fifth place in the IRB rankings ahead of
the 2015 World Cup seedings.
The Wallabies, second in the world rankings before kickoff,
were without injured winger Digby Ioane, flanker David
Pocock, prop Ben Alexander and lock Sitaleki Timani.
Australia continued with Kurtley Beale at flyhalf after the
23-year-old impressed in a 18-18 draw against New Zealand
France relied on the experienced Michalak to steer the ship
with Maxime Machenaud starting at scrumhalf for his second
Australia had thrashed France on their last visit to the
Stade de France two years ago but the were on the other end
of the game this time.
France put on the early pressure and were rewarded after five
minutes when Michalak whipped a penalty kick between the
posts after a Wycliff Palu offside.
Harris quickly responded with a penalty but Les Bleus were
soon back in the Australian half.
Australia conceded a penalty for turning the scrum five
metres from the line and France opted for another scrum from
number eight Picamoles charged over the try line.
Harris slotted another penalty after Australia had threatened
the French line through Adam Ashley-Cooper and Tatafu Polota
Nau to keep the visitors afloat.
Australia finally got into their stride shortly before the
half hour, but poor execution kept them from the France line,
with Beale missing a try-making pass near the left wing.
Picamoles gave the hosts their best attacking opportunities
as the number eight's forays down the middle proved tricky to
Another devastating Picamoles run led to Michalak's
well-executed drop as France opened a 10-point gap on the
stroke of halftime.
Australia's scrum creaked as they hardly contained France's
brute power and the visitors conceded another penalty early
in the second half, only for Florian Fritz's feeble attempt
to land far from the posts.
France surged clear before the hour when a poor Beale kick
landed in the hands of Michalak, who danced through the field
before offloading to Fofana for the centre's fifth try form
The crowd immediately chanted Michalak's name and they soon
had more to celebrate.
The Australia scrum once again cracked and referee Nigel
Owens gave the hosts a penalty try before Parra rounded it up
with a late penalty.
France face Argentina in Lille next Saturday and Samoa a week
later at the Stade de France.
Australia play England at Twickenham on Saturday before games
against Italy (November 24) and Wales (December 1).