Wallabies grind out ugly win

Australia beat France 6-0 in Melbourne to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, reports SIMON BORCHARDT.

If you missed this Test, don't bother watching the replay. In fact, you may want to skip the highlights too. It was painful, sleep-inducing stuff, in stark contrast to last week's entertaining first Test.

Having made 10 changes following their 50-23 drubbing in Brisbane, and welcomed back those who had been involved in the Top 14 final, France were far more competitive, but still not good enough to beat a flat Wallabies side.

The visitors dominated the opening quarter – spending over two minutes inside the opposition 22 compared to Australia's six seconds – yet were unable to break the deadlock. Bernard Foley denied France an early try when he chased down a kick-ahead into the Wallabies' in-goal area, while Brice Dulin's long-range penalty attempt went wide.

Australia thought they had opened the scoring when Matt Toomua kicked behind the defence from just outside the French 22. The ball bounced away from Dulin before being pounced upon by Ben McCalman, but the officials ruled that Toomua had made contact with the French fullback, preventing him from getting to the ball, and awarded a penalty.

France failed to take further scoring opportunities when Dulin missed his second penalty attempt and Yannick Nyanga knocked on with the tryline in sight after charging down a Toomua kick, which resulted in the first 0-0 half-time scoreline between these teams since 1958.

Nic White then missed two early second-half penalties, before Foley finally kicked the first points of the match in the 53rd minute.

White's first successful strike doubled the lead but he missed again with 10 minutes to go, after Bernard le Roux had been sent to the sin bin for collapsing a maul.

Fourteen-man France finished the game in Wallabies territory but never looked like scoring a try and eventually conceded a breakdown penalty.

Wallabies – Penalties: Bernard Foley, Nic White.

Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Luke Jones, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Pat McCabe.

France – 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Maxime Médard, 10 Rémi Talès, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Alexandre Flanquart, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Alexandre Menini.
Subs: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Thomas Domingo, 18 Nicolas Mas, 19 Bernard le Roux, 20 Louis Picamoles, 21 Antoine Burban, 22 Frédéric Michalak, 23 Remi Lamerat.

No one stood out in this woeful fixture.

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Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

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Simon Borchardt