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France cruise past Australia as Dupont and Penaud sparkle

France cruise past Australia as Dupont and Penaud sparkle

France cruise past Australia as Dupont and Penaud sparkle

France put the seal on their World Cup preparations with a comfortable 41-19 victory over Australia in the Summer Nations Series finale.

The World Cup hosts were short of their best in the first-half but still held an 11-point lead after a converted try from Jonathan Danty and three penalties from Thomas Ramos took them clear of Mark Nawaqanitawase’s reply for Australia.

Fabien Galthié’s side improved after the break, with some customary Antoine Dupont magic helping to unlock a stubborn Wallabies defence, with further tries from wing wizards Gabin Villière and two from Damian Penaud.

Australia had chances to make a game of it after the interval but were unable to cash in, despite a well-worked try from Fraser McReight and consolation score from Suniasi Vunivalu.

All of the last three meetings between the two teams had been decided by three points or fewer, and the early stages suggested another tight encounter here.

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While Australia had the first 22 entry, it was France who claimed the first points of the afternoon, as Danty powered over after some clever improvisation at the line out, as Dupont fed the rampaging centre after the forwards had given the impression they were setting up for a drive.

Australia responded quickly, as Nawaqanitawase slid over in the corner for his fourth try in seven international starts.

His tidy finish came after a pinpoint long pass from full-back Andrew Kellaway, recognising the abundance of space available out wide after Penaud positioned himself too narrowly in defence.

Carter Gordon missed the conversion from the touchline and that proved the story of the first half, as he failed to bisect the posts on three separate occasions, leaving eight points out on the field.

Ramos, meanwhile, encountered no such problems, with his three penalties helping France to a 16-5 half-time lead.

There may have been a sizeable gap between the teams on the scoreboard, largely a by-product of the nine penalties Australia had conceded, but Eddie Jones’ team had certainly accounted themselves well having dominated possession and territory.

The ever-reliable Ramos missed a chance to make it a two-score game with a presentable penalty chance three minutes into the second period.

Australia then enjoyed their best spell of the match but failed to cut the deficit and France capitalised soon after.

After a penalty around halfway, a quick tap from Antoine Dupont and pop pass to Jalibert set the fly-half clear and he was eventually stopped on the Australia 22.

Vunivalu then committed an infringement and Ramos responded with another three points to make it 19-3.

More quick-thinking from Dupont stretched France’s healthy lead, after a big carry from Danty, superb offload from Jalibert and the scrum-half’s calmest of kicks to Penaud to finish.

Australia hit back through flanker McReight after Tate McDermott’s kick was gobbled up by fly-half Gordon but Villière crossed just three minutes later to make it 31-12.

Penaud then added his second after a delightful chip and chase before Australia grabbed their third try in the closing moments through wing Vunivalu, who climbed above replacement Melvyn Jaminet to claim his first Test try.

There was still for France to break the 40-point mark, as Jaminet then struck a penalty from halfway with the last act of the game.

There was a calm to France’s victory in the end but the Stade de France is guaranteed to be rocking in 12 days time when New Zealand head to the capital for the World Cup opener.

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