Wallabies thrash poor French side in first test

JIM MORTON
Last updated 23:55 07/06/2014
Kurtley Beale
Getty Images

BIG TASK: Kurtley Beale has won the Wallabies first five-eighth starting spot over Waratahs team-mate Bernard Foley for the opening Bledisloe Cup test against the All Blacks.

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The Wallabies have opened 2014 in sizzling style by thrashing an overwhelmed France 50-23 at Suncorp Stadium.

Australia were ruthless on Saturday night in an attacking masterclass to pick up where they left off at the end of last year's European tour.

The seven-try blitz was their highest score over Les Blues on Australian soil and their fifth straight Test win - equalling their best streak in nine years - much to the delight of a 33,718-strong Brisbane crowd.

The only worry was the early loss of new skipper Stephen Moore who is in grave doubt for the rest of the three-Test series with a medial ligament tear.

Flanker Michael Hooper stepped up to the plate as captain and led from the front in a superb display in attack, defence and on the ball.

Pre-match concerns over the Wallabies rookie halves pair and their second-row were unfounded as Nic White and Bernard Foley impressed and debutant lock Sam Carter was named man of the match.

When Israel Folau loped 50m and put replacement Pat McCabe over with his first touch of the ball in the 71st minute, Australia led the outclassed tourists 50-9.

Folau also scored a try of his own and played a key role in the try of the night with Nick Cummins finishing a beautiful backline move.

"He is a class player," France coach Philippe Saint-Andre said of the fullback. "He's a match-winner. He showed that tonight.

"Australia were very strong in contact and won 70-80 per cent of the collisions.

"They were physical with a lot of urgency, and we panicked too much."

Foley and White took to their task with relish - finding a hungry array of runners with wide passes that Quade Cooper would be proud of.

To their credit, the French bench made a late impact and closed the game with two five-pointers, including a pushover penalty try on fulltime.

The Wallabies led 29-9 at the break with the game all but over following a four-try first-half where they were helped along by the bumbling visitors with Matt Toomua gifted a try on halftime.

It was 50-cap forwards Wycliff Palu and James Slipper, a stand out in his 65 minutes, who were the unlikely duo to combine and help put Folau over for the opening try in the 19th minute.

The Wallabies were far more clinical in attack while they expertly shut down the uncertain French in defence.

"I think we played a really good mix of territory and ball-in-hand," said coach Ewen McKenzie.

"I thought our breakdown work was very good and we could get continuity of possession."

Australia 50 (Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Nick Cummins, Israel Folau, Michael Hooper, Pat McCabe, Matt Toomua tries Bernard Foley 6 cons pen) France 23 (1 penalty try) (Morgan Parra try Frederic Michalak 2 cons 2 pens drop goal) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Craig Joubert. Crowd: 33,718

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