Australia v France - teams and predictions
SECOND TEST: Wallaby coach Dave Rennie has cautioned a new-look France they will meet a sharper, faster Australia on Tuesday.
He admitted their narrow win in the opening clash of the series was “substandard”.
An under-strength Les Bleus should have clinched the first Test in Brisbane, if only they had kicked the ball into touch after the final siren.
Instead, they gifted Australia a turnover and ultimately a penalty under the posts to snatch the game 23-21.
“You’ve got to cop it on the chin,” Rennie said.
“It was a substandard performance [last week], but I’m happy with the character we showed to fight our way back from 15-0 down and get a result in the end,” he added.
Despite their mediocre efforts, just one change has been made to the starting line-up for Melbourne, with big tighthead prop Taniela Tupou, who made an impact off the bench in Brisbane, promoted in place of Allan Alaalatoa.
With veteran playmaker James O’Connor again ruled out injured, the game-day 23 is the same for the first time in consecutive Tests since Rennie took charge last year.
The New Zealander, who is looking for the team to wrap up the series ahead of a return to Brisbane for the final Test on Saturday, said they deserved another chance.
“Seven days ago we thought we picked the right side to play. We lacked accuracy. We gave up some soft points early. We just think there’s more in this group and we want to give them another crack.”
While keeping faith, he is also adamant they must learn from their mistakes in Brisbane, where too many missed tackles and dropped balls allowed France to race into that 15-0 lead.
“We need to start fast, be more clinical and turn pressure into points on Tuesday,” he said.
“Confident that we’ll be sharper this time. A lack of accuracy and a lack of continuity affected our ability to put the French under pressure [last week].”
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Despite their sloppy finish, France coach Fabien Galthie has retained his entire backline, including rookie fullback Melvyn Jaminet, who made the critical error at the death that cost his team victory.
“These seven players, to varying degrees, did all right. The important thing is that they feel confident,” explained Galthie, whose inexperienced squad in Australia is missing a host of regulars due to domestic commitments and injury.
“We decided not to change the half-backs. It’s part of the learning process. For a lot of rookie players this is a time of accelerated learning.”
But he has rejigged the pack, making five changes with Castres prop Wilfrid Hounkpatin and Stade Francais lock Pierre-Henri Azagoh both coming in to win their first caps.
They are joined by Cameron Woki and Ibrahim Diallo in the back row with Bordeaux-Begles lock Cyril Cazeaux also called up to form a new second-row combination with Azagoh.
“We want to find the right balance between turnover and continuity,” added Galthie, who is looking to steer France to their first win on Australian soil since 1990.
Players to watch
For Australia: The Wallaby coach, Rennie, is backing last week’s combination to wrap up the series on Tuesday. Powerhouse prop Taniela Tupou has been promoted to start in place of Allan Alaalatoa in the starting XV. Alaalatoa drops to the bench, with Rennie picking the same game-day 23 for the first time in consecutive Tests since taking charge last year. Players who will look to improve on last week’s showing include centres Hunter Paisami and Matt Toomua, while rookie flyhalf Noah Lolesio will also the spotlight on him again. Captain Michael Hooper came good in the second half last week and will look to build on that.
For France: France coach Fabien Galthie has made five charges to his starting team, with three of them – Wilfrid Hounkpatin, Pierre-Henri Azagoh and Ibrahim Diallo- making their international debuts. Prop Demba Bamba has lost his place in the starting line-up to Castres’ Hounkpatin. The second row is completely changed – with Killian Geraci, Romain Taofifenua sitting on the bench for Cyril Cazeaux and Stade Francais youngster Azagoh. Flank Cameron Woki replaces Dylan Cretin, who was ruled out with an ankle injury.
Head to head
France is chasing their first Test win on Australian soil since 1990.
Most recent results
2021: Australia won 23–21, Brisbane
2016: Australia won 25-23, Paris
2014: France won 29–26, Paris
2014: Australia won 39–13, Sydney
2014: Australia won 6–0, Melbourne
2014: Australia won 50–23, Brisbane
2012: France won 33–6, Paris
2010: Australia won 59-16, Paris
2009: Australia won 22–6, Sydney
2008: Australia won 18-13, Paris
2008: Australia won 40–10, Brisbane
2008: Australia won 34–13, Sydney
@rugby365com: Australia by nine points
Australia: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Matt To’omua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Isi Naisarani, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Len Ikitau, 23 Andrew Kellaway.
France: 15 Melvyn Jaminet, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Arthur Vincent, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Gabin Villiere, 10 Louis Carbonel, 9 Baptiste Couilloud, 8 Anthony Jelonch (captain), 7 Cameron Woki, 6 Ibrahim Diallo, 5 Cyril Cazeaux, 4 Pierre-Henri Azagoh, 3 Wilfrid Hounkpatin, 2 Gaetan Barlot, 1 Jean-Baptiste Gros.
Replacements: 16 Anthony Etrillard, 17 Enzo Forletta, 18 Demba Bamba, 19 Killian Geraci, 20 Romain Taofifenua, 21 Sekou Macalou, 22 Teddy Iribaren, 23 Anthony Bouthier.
Date: Tuesday, July 13
Venue: Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne
Kick-off: 20.00 (12.00 French time; 10.00 GMT)
Expected weather: Partly cloudy with 40 percent chance of showers. High of 14°C and a low of 10°C
Referee: James Doleman (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia), Damon Murphy (Australia)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)