Afternoon Test rugby returned to the Sydney Football Stadium with the Wallabies looking to make it a 3-0 series clean sweep against the French.
The question was would the fans see the form from the first Test in Brisbane or would it be another repeat of the Melbourne Test?
In front of 43,188 fans in the sun at Allianz Stadium, the Wallabies have swept the French 3-0 following a 39-13 win. The Wallabies scored five tries to one in the victory with Will Skelton impressive in his debut.
The Wallabies were the first to score with an early penalty goal to Bernard Foley after just two minutes after a ruck infringement from the French.
But straight from the restart, Scott Fardy was penalised for not releasing the ball but Maxime Machenaud’s attempt to level the scores skimmed the upright and was waved away.
The Wallabies started to dictate terms with all the possession but looked like it could break down after looking a little disorganised but they managed to get their attack back on track and after 20 phases, Will Skelton bumped off Fulgence Ouedroago and reached out to score a try on his Test match debut after eight minutes.
A few errors started to creep into the Wallabies game after a great start with a lineout error and scrum infringement allowing French fullback Brice Dulin to get the French on the board with a long range penalty.
Right off the restart, Wallabies captain Michael Hooper showed he meant business and put on a great hit to put pressur on the French and cause them to concede a penalty right in front. Foley converted his second penalty to put the lead back to 10 points at 13-3.
The Wallabies were playing a much more fluent game than last week and the territory and possession stats showed that with over 75% of the ball and territory in the opening 20 minutes not allowing the French to show anything.
Israel Folau was starting to inject himself into the game and on one occasion made a half break and almost offloaded to a supporting Hooper inside the French 22. It looked like Hooper was held back by French prop Rabah Slimani and assistant referee Nigel Owens recommended a yellow card to referee Chris Pollock.
The Wallabies declined a shot at goal and with the weight of numbers, it was only a matter of time before they scored again and it would be crowd favourite Israel Folau who scored in the right corner. Foley converted from near the sideline to make it 20-3.
The French were finally able to get a chance with their hands on the ball and started to throw it around in the dry conditions but some poor handling from runners in good position ended any chance of bridging the gap.
However just before half time, Machenaud was able to add another three points to make the Wallabies lead 14 points which would be the lead at the break.
It only took two minutes of the second half for the Wallabies to extend their lead with Will Skelton showing great ball playing skills to put Israel Folau through a gap to score his second of the game under the posts and with Foley’s conversion the Wallabies were up by 21.
But they seemed to take their foot of the throttle with errors creeping back into the game to let the French off the hook.
At around the 55 minute mark Ewen McKenzie called for a few of the replacements to take to the field with Toomua, Skelton and White all replaced in quick succession with Kurtley Beale, James Horwill and Nick Phipps taking to the field.
They got things back on track with the fourth try of the match after 60 minutes with Michael Hooper on the end of a well worked moved that involved Beale (twice) and Foley after opening up the French defensive line.
With the game into the final quarter, the visitors finally got over the line after a move off the back of a lineout in the Wallabies 22. French hooker Guilherm Giraudo came up with the five-pointer to give the score some respectability.
But the Wallabies had more tries in them with Nick Phipps bagging their fifth after a quick tap from a penalty five metres out. The play of Beale was starting to get on top of the French with his involvement starting to cause havoc for the French.
The French did have one last crack at the Wallabies line but a high bomb from the French came to nothing after they knocked on right on the line to leave the final score at 39-13.
The Game Changer
The Wallabies had all the ball and possession in the first half to suffocate the French out of the game. A 20-6 lead by the break for the Wallabies would be too much for the French to overcome.
The G&GR MOTM
Wycliff Palu – Had a huge game with some strong carries and was one of many who impressed on the day.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Skelton, Folau 2, Hooper, Phipps
Conversions: Foley 4
Penalties: Foley 2
Penalties: Dulin, Machenaud
26 mins – Rabah Slimani (France) – Yellow Card
Check out the gallery below from Green and Gold’s own Sully.