Thank you for joining me tonight for another thrilling Test. We’ve been treated to three nail-biting contests that have increased in quality and entertainment match by match. Tonight’s 80 minutes were superb value.
Credit to France for putting on such a show with an undermanned squad. And well done to the Wallabies for scrapping over the line despite such a huge handicap.
Stay tuned for in-depth coverage of the Lions series in South Africa, and be sure to join us back here for the Bledisloe in a few weeks. Until then, goodnight.
“We played smart. We kicked a lot better tonight,” remarks Dave Rennie after rightfully lauding Darcy Swain and the rest of his pack. He tries to avoid being drawn on the red card, but still manages to insinuate it was the result of Jelonch going down too theatrically.
Despite the incredible 80 minutes, it seems likely the red card to Koroibete early on will be the lasting talking point. Matt Wakeman has emailed in his say.
“The problem when people want to start talking about mitigation is that you inevitably end up talking about intent. As far as I could see it was a red card on first viewing, there was no attempt to make a tackle at all since Koroibete never used his arms. It was just a ‘shot’ attempt and as such as soon as he makes contact with the head, then it is a red card offence.
It does make me laugh that people want to talk about how they want to make the game safer but as soon as the laws are enforced to achieve that soon goes out of the window.” There certainly is a gap between rhetoric and action in all contact sports at the moment. Quite how sports as historically physical as rugby evolve in this new climate will be central to their survival.
“What a Gr8 game,” emails Tony Beaumont (any relation to Bill?). “Australia with only 14 for 75 mins. Perfect controlled game. Terrific spectacle.” It sure was. The Wallabies forwards in particular deserve enormous credit for their performance tonight.
That may have only been an amuse-bouche of a series to tune-up before the Bledisloe, the Lions, and The Rugby Championship, but it gave us three nights of increasingly superb sport.
Michael Hooper, “so proud,” credits the Suncorp Crowd and Australia’s incredible winning run in Brisbane. “It was a tough campaign... each game down to the wire.”
“Just everyone doing their job” says an understated Darcy Swain. “Credit to the boys. Pretty bloody good feeling.”
Full-time: Australia 33-30 France
Somehow, somehow, 14-man Australia beat France. What a match.
80 mins: Australia 33-30 France - The lineout is secured by France but Australia’s forwards are superb to shut down the maul. Then the arm goes the Wallabies’ way! Australia win!
80 mins: Australia 33-30 France - The siren sounds. One final drive.
80 mins: Australia 33-30 France - Slow ball on halfway on the left wing. Australia’s forwards performing superbly to slow the play down, invite contact, and keep the ball alive legally...
Until they don’t. France offered a penalty at the breakdown with 30 seconds left. Near enough halfway, on the right wing. Does Jaminet have the distance? France go for touch!
79 mins: Australia 33-30 France - Can Australia secure the restart? Yes!
PENALTY! Australia 33-30 France (Lolesio, 79)
The Wallabies lead again! Surely that’s it. Surely...
77 mins: Australia 30-30 France - Massive scrum from Australia - they have bullied France in that department all night. Eventually the penalty advantage is awarded, and soon cashed in. Lolesio will line up again, 30m out, on a slight angle. You’d back him in.
76 mins: Australia 30-30 France - Neither side wants the ball after the restart - and it’s a kicking duel that ends with a France knock-on! Lolesio’s chase pressurised the garryowen and Australia have a scrum 30m out...
PENALTY! Australia 30-30 France (Jaminet, 75)
25m out dead in front, Jaminet doesn’t miss those. Scores level again. This deserves to end in a tie.
74 mins: Australia 30-27 France - Can Australia see off the victory? Gah! France leap to claim the high restart. Two phases later the ball’s infield and there’s a high-tackle from Valetini and France have an immediate opportunity to reply.
PENALTY! Australia 30-27 France (Lolesio, 72)
42m out, dead straight, Lolesio caresses the penalty over and Australia lead at the death!
72 mins: Australia 27-27 France - Australia secure the lineout and Valetini hits a very very flat (forward?) ball to drive into French territory. Paenga-Amosa then carries. inviting Frenchman to the breakdown, and forcing a penalty Australia’s way!
70 mins: Australia 27-27 France - Incredible kick from France. Huge boot downfield that bounces 12m in, takes a massive leg-break and rolls out 10m from the line. It’s a rare shaky lineout from the Wallabies but McDermott does magnificently to dummy and dance through contact to set up a ruck from which France commit a penalty. Now only ten minutes remaining with the ball in dispute on halfway.
68 mins: Australia 27-27 France - How will the French scrum hold up with its own feed 5m out from its own line? It’s sketchy, but it holds up long enough for Couilloud to break and head back down that favoured short side, the left. Australia look to have smuggled the ball into touch on the 22, but a gold hand is spotted in contact and it’s a blue lineout. The ball is safe and the kick clears to halfway. 12 minutes remaining, ball in dispute, scores level. What a finish.
67 mins: Australia 27-27 France - France shove early, Australia tap the free-kick and Naisarani hurls towards the line. France hold them up 2m short. Paisami has a go, Valetini launches, Hooper thinks about a dart but the ball instead goes to Paenga-Amosa, who dives - and he’s over! Try for Australia!
Hmmm. France are adamant there’s a knock-on. Australia are desperate to take the conversion before the TMO can get involved, but to no avail. The replay shows clearly Paisami loses control on his carry. No try! Gah! So close for the Wallabies.
65 mins: Australia 27-27 France - This one needs resetting. Tupou is pounding Walcker.
65 mins: Australia 27-27 France - The Wallabies get some wheels after the shove and before there’s a chance for a play off the back there’s another penalty Australia’s way.
Another 5m scrum. Tension building.
63 mins: Australia 27-27 France - Hooper calls for a 5m scrum. This has been a ballsy half for a side a man down.
63 mins: Australia 27-27 France - Australia have dominated set-piece ball tonight, and it continues again with a clean 5m attacking lineout. The maul takes a while to rumble, but when it does it soon collapses and Australia earn the penalty. The Wallaby forwards can be proud of their work tonight.
61 mins: Australia 27-27 France - Australia earn a penalty advantage from the scrum. McDermott keeps play moving infield, then back to the right wing, before Valetini straights up infield. Lolesio accepts contact as the Wallabies probe, but the momentum ebbs away and play returns to that penalty. It’s kicked deep into the right corner.
60 mins: Australia 27-27 France - For the first time this series Australia are playing the percentages - and it’s paying off. The second voluntary box kick in succession earns a turnover in France territory, again Thomas targeted on France’s left wing.
58 mins: Australia 27-27 France - Lolesio misses! 30m out bang in front... This crazy game takes another twist.
57 mins: Australia 27-27 France - Solid lineout from Australia on their own 22. Hooper wants to run for a couple of phases but eventually accepts the need to kick for territory. The chase is blistering and Hodge cleans up Thomas for a textbook turnover on halfway. McDermott then orchestrates a drive left, then right, with runners like Hodge and Swain pinching metres if not miles. As the phases rack up there’s a penalty for offside - and Lolesio has a simple kick to return his 14-man side ahead.
55 mins: Australia 27-27 France - Another monster of a sub, Bamba this time, smashes into the tackle inside Australia’s half and he forces a penalty France’s way. 30 out, 10 in, Jaminet misses! Remember where you were when the French fullback missed a kick for goal.
TRY! Australia 27-27 France (Tupou, 52)
The previous try was a consequence of France exposing the space left by Australia’s red card. They go again along a similar route following the restart but this time Ikitau nails the tackle and earns the penalty turnover. The kick to the corner is secured safely by the Wallaby lineout, off which Paenga-Amosa darts to the line and is inches short! The move continues with massed ranks over the ball and a series of pick-and-go efforts repelled by desperate defence until Tupou is too low, too strong, too determined, and like a rutting bison he brings the scores almost level... Lolesio dots the i’s and crosses the bar with his conversion. 27-all! Will these sides ever be separated!?
TRY! Australia 20-27 France (Barassi, 48)
ALLEZ LES BLEUS! Magnifique from France. From the scrum deep in their own territory France score a try straight from the gods. The ball is sent through hands to the left and Thomas chips and chases his own ball at speed. The pass infield is good, then it’s catch and pass until Barassi has the room to cross. Exhilarating rugby.
47 mins: Australia 20-20 France - Excellent lineout then a maul, followed by a splintered maul, with enough momentum to keep the ball moving towards France’s line. But then the immense Woki steps in and rips possession back for France.
Time for the subs to enter the fray, starting with Bell and Tupou in Australia’s front-row.
46 mins: Australia 20-20 France - Another reset scrum eventually holds for the Wallabies to secure the ball and allow Paisami to hammer clear. France run the ball back and again it’s ambitious but poorly executed with combination play too intricate on the left edge. Hooper then hammers Hastoy and monsters the breakdown to force the turnover. The long kick downfield offers Australia their first attacking platform of the half.
44 mins: Australia 20-20 France - Australia’s restart is weak and France are soon back on the attack through Jaminet. There’s space on the short side, the right, but the flick pass out of the breakdown is forward and the Wallabies can regroup. They defended excellently in a couple of separate passages there the home side.
42 mins: Australia 20-20 France - France throw the ball around following a lineout on halfway. The Wallabies do well do close the broken field and slow the phases down. After eight phases, increasingly slow, Jaminet attempts a drop-goal from 40m, but it’s weak and floats wide.
Two-and-a-half matches into this series, and the scoreline remains dead even. Will the deadlock be broken in the next 40 minutes?
“You wonder why numbers are down for rugby in Australia,” emails Rhys Austin, “the red card to Koroibete was atrocious. Thats enough for me!”
I can see that point of view, and my initial reaction was one of astonishment at a formidable tackle. But we all have to recognise we are at the moment of transition in all contact sports around the world and incidents like those have to be seen through a different lens. Head contact is verboten, responsibility will always be with the tackler, and we have to adjust as a community.
Sonny Bill Williams is interesting on TV. He argues for a “commonsense rule” that acknowledges an indiscretion from Koroibete, but recognises the intent was purely to land the tackle. Other pundits are ropable.
“It always amazes me that try scorers do not attempt to get as close to the posts as possible,” emails a frustrated Steve Ditchburn. “If I was coach I would discipline them - they are risking the two extra points for the sake of a flamboyant dive!”
A man after my own heart Steve. Although, the way these guys kick nowadays it hardly matters unless there’s a gale blowing.
Half-time: Australia 20-20 France
Lolesio does kick the simple penalty, bringing a breathless incident-packed half to a close.
40 mins: Australia 17-20 France - Yet again the scrum doesn’t pack down correctly first time. “Stability” demands the referee. He gets it second time allowing McDermott to feed Hodge, then recycle play for four meaty drives to the left before returning infield. Seven phases, then eight, all narrow drives until Hooper darts through a gap with McDermott on his shoulder. He’s dragged down inches short! There’s penalty advantage on the play though, which is called after an expansive hail-mary to the right wing from Lolesio doesn’t go to hand. So close twice for the Wallabies, but they’ll be happy with the three point gimme to enter the sheds even.
39 mins: Australia 17-20 France - Good restart from the Wallabies pressurises France as they try to clear. It earns them a lineout just outside the 22 that results in a set play with Ikitau on the burst. The ball keeps coming back, until it doesn’t. A chaotic breakdown with knock-ons from both sides ends with turnover ball. In an instant there’s a kick ahead and Thomas is rapid, sprinting to collect the bouncing ball and touch down. It’s awarded a try on-field, but the TMO wastes no time pointing out the knock-on.
Instead of seven points for the visitors, it’s a home scrum inside the 22 with seconds left in the half.
TRY! Australia 17-20 France (Woki, 26)
The previous phase ended with an Australian offside that France tapped to advantage 5m form the line, instead of kicking the penalty. It was a smart call. After Falatea smashed into the Wallabies’ defence the ruck formed and the athletic Woki was marshalling it before leaping over the pack to touch down. He is some player.
Jaminet adds the extras, and France are back in front. Some half this.
36 mins: Australia 17-13 France - Better from France in the scrum, but off the back Jaminet kicks to Banks, who kicks back - straight into touch - and France have a lineout 10m inside Australia’s half.
Off the lineout France expand and attack at speed. Jaminet is crucial on the right edge, eating up the ground. He feeds Couilloud inside but the scrum-half cannot beat a superb McDermott tackle near the line and leaves the lock Cazeaux on his inside hanging. Cazeaux recycles the ball, but will rue not receiving the assist for a simple try.
34 mins: Australia 17-13 France - Snappy lineout from the Wallabies, followed by a quick phase to keep the tempo high. McDermott is doing a good job keeping Australia moving around the ground. But just as I type that he’s pinged for a knock-on at the breakdown and France have the scrum feed 10m inside their own half.
32 mins: Australia 17-13 France - The kick reaches the 22 and the resulting lineout is snaffled safely. The maul doesn’t gather momentum so the ball heads infield to Paisani on the burst, then a few pick and go drives before the play is switched back to the short side, the right, where Paisani tries the long cutout pass to Hodge but it misses the target and goes into touch. France execute the lineout and kick to halfway.
30 mins: Australia 17-13 France - France get their hands on the ball for the first time in a while and run dangerously up the guts. They reach Australian territory and then benefit from the referee’s decision with a toss-up scrum call. Again the collision of 900kg of rugby muscle takes a couple of goes, and after the second failure Australia are awarded the penalty. The Wallaby scrum is right on top tonight, even without Tupou.
PENALTY! Australia 17-13 France (Lolesio, 26)
Lolesio cannot miss from under the crossbar.
“Is there a sport on the planet worse at replay than rugby union?” asks Justin Hegarty by email. Are any sports enhanced by replays? Bin them all, I say, and tell everyone to stop whingeing about decisions.
23 mins: Australia 14-13 France - Australia opt to run for a few phases after an early incursion from Paenga-Amosa off a lineout. It proves successful, with metres gained earning an advantage for a Jelonch high tackle on Paisami on the 22. As you can imagine, the crowd gets right into the scene, demanding cards (which are not necessary).
23 mins: Australia 14-13 France - Now it’s France’s turn to nearly score out of th eblue. Australia dwell on the ball 30m out and by the time the ball is sent back for the clearing kick there’s time for a charge-down. Hooper regathers and McDermott completes the clearing kick, France come straight back and Jaminet almost carves through but Paisami is strong in defence. Forletta is then penalised on the ground after the tackle, and Australia escape.
TRY! Australia 14-13 France (Lolesio, 20)
Wow! Wow, wow, wow. France play out from the breakdown on the left wing and head infield. Two passes into the move there appears to be open field out wide if they can get the ball through hands. They can’t. Why not? Because Lolesio is sharking and intercepts superbly, clinging on with the fingertips of his left hand, and dashes home unopposed. Amazing scenes at Suncorp Stadium.
After a hearty celebration the fly-half kicks two more points to put the 14-man Wallabies 14-13 ahead!
18 mins: Australia 7-13 France - The scrum takes a couple of goes to set, the referee having some words with the French front row (in French) before he raises his right arm and blows his whistle for a Wallaby penalty. Australia’s set-piece has held up well this series.
16 mins: Australia 7-13 France - Neither sides likes what they see with ball in hand so it’s a rare kicking exchange, one that ends in France’s favour. However, the lineout is wonky and Australia are gifted a scrum just outside their 22.
16 mins: Australia 7-13 France - It’s all happening, eh?
PENALTY! Australia 7-13 France (Jaminet, 14)
Another breakdown penalty against Australia - we’ve seen plenty of those this series - and Jaminet will line up from 40m out, 10m in from the touchline. In other words, right in the dead-eye’s wheelhouse. Does he ever miss?
TRY! Australia 7-10 France (McDermott, 11)
Australia finally get their hands on the ball, and the revised tactics are soon apparent. A couple of phases in midfield are followed by a switch to the right and Banks dabbing the ball through for Hodge, knowing territory would be secured even if the kick is not gathered.
France secure their own lineout ball but before they can clear Australia force the turnover. Almost immediately Lolesio finds Hooper on a blistering burst and perfect angle, the home skipper carving his way through the defensive line and into open field. He doesn’t have the legs on his own, but does he have support? Yes! McDermott gleefully accepts the gift and splashes over near the posts. Incredible response to those early setbacks from the Australian skipper.
Lolesio adds the extras.
TRY! Australia 0-10 France (Couilloud, 8)
France execute a safe 5m lineout after rejecting the shot for goal. The maul is well set, giving Couilloud time to assess his options, peel off the back, sprint down the blindside and steam straight through and over McDermott’s flimsy tackle on the line. This is an ugly start for the Wallabies. Very very ugly indeed.
Jaminet smashes home a terrific conversion. He is a superb kick for goal.
7 mins: Australia 0-3 France - The lineout is long over the back for Couilloud to snaffle and dart 20m to the line! He’s scragged inches short, but the ruck is disrupted and another French penalty is awarded.
7 mins: Australia 0-3 France - France gained metres from the penalty, then even more metres following another Australian infringement. They’re now inside the Wallabies’ 22...
RED CARD! Koroibete
5 mins: Australia 0-3 France - Wow. This match has just turned on its head. Australia’s most dangerous player is off, barely five minutes into this clash. Foul player with no mitigation, say the referees. “An absolute travesty” says Andrew Mehrtens.
5 mins: Australia 0-3 France - “Direct contact to the head” says the referee.... oh dear.
5 mins: Australia 0-3 France - Eeesh, replays do not favour Koroibete here. From the reverse angle you can tell that the tackler connects with the carrier’s face, which is tucked in tight bracing for contact. It’s hard to tell if it’s shoulder-to-shoulder and then a bounce up, or direct to the head. Either way, the TMO is involved...
5 mins: Australia 0-3 France - BOOM! Koroibete has sent France captain Jelonch into next week with a monstrous hit chasing down the restart kick. Absolutely bone-shattering tackle. Jelonch dropped the ball in the process too.
PENALTY! Australia 0-3 France (Jaminet, 4)
The Wallabies execute their first lineout without any scare and McDermott box kicks clear. France again kick early in their possession, the second grubber of the night to the left corner, this one doesn’t go into touch and Les Bleus force the turnover. A couple of phases send the ball inside and there’s an offside advantage at the ruck and a gimme penalty is awarded. France have started superbly and are ahead early. They have been ahead almost all series.
2 mins: Australia 0-0 France - Slow ball early from France so Couilloud kicks high and it’s spilled by the onrushing Banks. Jaminet then breaks through the line on the left edge, crossing halfway. France then kick to touch to cement their territorial advantage. Daugunu is already in the hands of trainers with a right wrist injury suffered trying to bring down Jaminet. He got in an awful bodyshape and was just smacked by the French fullback, Reece Hodge is already into the game on the right wing.
Who will lift the Trophée des Bicentenaires? We’ll find out in 80 minutes (plus half-time) from now...
We all know La Marseillaise makes Advance Australia Fair look like a monotone nursery rhyme, but credit to the three singers Australia have chosen this series, they have all absolutely belted the bejeezus out of every note, taking on the French with every breath. Good effort.
In the region of 35,000 in Suncorp Stadium tonight, including this marvellous stereotype.
Out come the two sides, France all in blue, sporting a jaunty white cockerel on the right breast, and a much plumper, prouder red one on the left breast.
The Wallabies are in their nouveau gold with green trim, gilded by the distinctive purple branding of a confectioner from England’s West Midlands.
“It’s time to make winning part of our DNA,” urges David Campese. Defeat tonight is surely not an option for an Australian side at a delicate stage of its transition.
Dave Rennie has just said a few words. He wants the Wallabies to be “physical, especially post tackle.” And he also called for accuracy, tempo, and smart kicking. The latter has been noticeably absent from this series so far with Australia running at all costs.
This series has been the first look at rugby on Nine/Stan here in Australia, and I’ve been pretty impressed so far. The actual call is straight down the line, and refreshingly, has lacked the rabid barracking rugby can fall prey to. The overall tone has been welcoming and relaxed - it doesn’t take itself too seriously - but at the same time there’s an obvious focus on insight and added value. Allana Ferguson is excellent.
In other rugby news, Robert Kitson reports on changes at the top of the game.
Changing perceptions can be tough, but at long last – and possibly in the nick of time – a refreshing breeze of change, if not quite a full force gale, is discernible. ‘A line in the sand’ is the phrase being used, and having studied the new mission statement released on Wednesday by World Rugby – incorporating everything from strategic aims to potentially far-reaching, fundamental law trials – it is only fair to report the early signs of a genuine sense of purpose and more collaborative problem-solving.
Conditions are mild and dry in Brisbane for the series decider, but a westerly breeze may become a factor. Australia have won eight straight at Lang Park and they’ll be delighted the series decider is on such favourable turf.
Michael Hooper broke away from the Ruggeroos warm-up to have a word with the TV coverage hosts. The resulting word cloud would be headlined by “believe”, while the Australian skipper also asserted that from the opening two matches “the stats really good” but results will only follow if the gold jerseys “sharpen up at the breakdown.”
In case you missed it, the full schedule for the remainder of Australia’s international season has been announced.
New Zealand v Wallabies, Saturday 7 August at Eden Park, Auckland at 5.05pm AEST
Wallabies v New Zealand, Saturday 21 August at Optus Stadium, Perth at 6.00pm AWST
New Zealand v Wallabies, Saturday 28 August at Sky Stadium, Wellington at 5.05pm AEST
South Africa v Wallabies, Sunday 12 September at Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney at 3.00pm AEST
Wallabies v South Africa, Saturday 18 September at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane at 3.00pm AEST
Wallabies v Argentina, Saturday 25 September at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle at 7.45pm AEST
Argentina v Wallabies, Saturday 2 October at GIO Stadium in Canberra at 8pm AEST
Here’s how Bret Harris saw things after Tuesday’s nail-biter.
Fabien Galthié is also mixing things up with seven changes of his own.
In come props Sipili Falatea and Enzo Forletta, lock Romain Taofifenua, flanker Dylan Cretin, fly-half Antoine Hastoy, centre Pierre-Louis Barassi, and winger Teddy Thomas.
After backing the same 23 for two matches in a row, Dave Rennie has rung the changes - seven in all to the starting XV - for the deciding Test. How many are the consequence of three games in such close proximity, and how many are for form, only Rennie knows.
Into the run-on side come Tate McDermott, Len Ikitau, Darcy Swain, Allan Alaalatoa, Lachie Swinton, Isi Naisarani, and Filipo Daugunu.
Taniela Tupou, Matt Philip, Rob Valetini, Jake Gordon and Matt To’omua all drop to the bench, where they are joined by the incoming pair of Jordan Uelese and Reece Hodge.
“We always knew with the scheduling of the series against a tough French side, that it would require a full squad effort and we’re going to see that on Saturday night,” Rennie said in a statement. “As always, we’ve picked a team that has earned the right to wear the gold jersey and we’re confident they’ll get the job done in Brisbane.”
Hello everybody and welcome to live coverage of the third and final Test of the series between the Wallabies & France. Kick-off at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium is 8pm AEST.
One more time with feeling then as this even series draws to a close with a winner-takes-all decider. By ‘all’, I mean the Trophée des Bicentenaires that is always up for grabs when these occasional foes cross paths. And by ‘even’ I mean that it’s one-Test apiece, and 49-all on the cumulative scoreboard from the opening two clashes.
It’s testament to the depth of French rugby that they have fought so hard to this stage of a tour with a largely second choice group. But for a catastrophic final play in the first Test they could be returning to Queensland with the series sewn up.
It’s been a puzzling couple of outings for Australia. They have been on the front foot most of the time but their play has also been riddled with errors and ill-discipline, while some of Michael Hooper’s on-field calls as captain have looked somewhat hubristic in hindsight.
Coach Dave Rennie will have had plenty to ponder following a narrow second Test defeat earlier this week. “We were disappointed with the result in Melbourne and we’ll be out to rectify that with more accuracy and composure in key moments at Suncorp Stadium,” he said.
I’ll be back with line-ups and more shortly, and if you want to contribute anything to tonight’s blog, you can do so by sending me emails or tweets.