13th of July 2021
By Daniel Cullinane
After a close win for Australia in the first test, both teams had much to play for in this second encounter in Melbourne. For Australia, a win would wrap up the series. And for France, victory was essential to keep the series alive.
France would again be without Antoine DuPont, the best scrum half in the world. The game started at a fast pace. It was clear that both teams wanted to keep a high tempo and there was lots of running from deep, especially by the Wallabies.
Wing Marika Koroibete put in a scything run which resulted in him crossing the French line for the first try of the match. Unfortunately, earlier in the move the other Australian wing Tom Wright had knocked on meaning the try was chalked off.
However, it wouldn’t be the last time that we would see Koroibete in full flow.
The Wallabies had a tough first half with a few mistakes and turnovers at the breakdown. The French capitalised with points from the boot.
France are a hard team to penetrate. In Sean Edwards they have the best defensive coach in world rugby and the work he is doing with them along with their improved conditioning is paying dividends.
They showed the Wallabies how dangerous they are on a broken field with some nice interplay leading to a try for French flyer Damian Penaud. Australia came back with a try just before half time.
A wonderful long miss pass from prop Taniela Tupou saw scrum half Jake Gordon score in the corner. The half finished 13-16 to France.
In the second half, Wallabies captain Michael Hooper really stood up in attack and defence. The French adopted a pick and drive approach and were making huge gains into the Australian half.
Hooper was on hand to win a timely turnover and stopped the French momentum in it’s tracks. He showed up again later in the half, and with real determination he got over the French line and scored to keep his team in the match.
At crucial times when Australia were piling the pressure on France, they let them off by not being accurate enough. The Wallabies need to sort their lineout before the final test. French flanker Cameron Woki was immense in the second half.
On his own line he stole an Australian throw and then was on hand to help his team burst out of their 22 and up the field. The teams swapped penalties in a tense last few minute’s. The final score was 26-28 to France.
Going into the third and final test, surely it’s too close to call. The Wallabies have plenty to work on in the set piece. They know a lot more about the French now.
They know they are committed in defence and have the fitness to maintain it, and are creative in attack but also possess ball carriers across the field to punch holes.
My man of the match was Australian wing Marika Koroibete. He was outstanding in open play with his speed, but also served as an extra ball carrier for the Wallabies with his explosive physicality.