Australia, France take differing approaches to 2nd test
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — After an error-strewn series opener that swung wildly on a wayward last-minute pass, Australia and France took different approaches to selections for the second rugby test.
Australia coach Dave Rennie made one change to the starting lineup after the Wallabies sealed a 23-21 comeback win in Brisbane with a penalty goal in stoppage time. France coach Fabien Galthie made five changes to his XV in a bid to level the series on Tuesday in Melbourne.
Prop Wilfrid Hounkpatin, lock Pierre-Henri Azagoh and backrower Ibrahim Diallo were picked to make their test debuts in a reworked French forward pack.
Hounkpatin replaced Demba Bamba, who was relegated to the bench, while Azagoh and Cyril Cazeaux were picked to start in the second row in place of Killian Geraci and Romain Taofifenua.
Diallo replaced Sekou Macalou and will join captain and No. 8 Anthony Jelonch in the backrow along with Cameron Woki, who was selected in place of flanker Dylan Cretin.
The French squad was missing some high-profile players for the trip to Australia and had to spend two weeks in quarantine ahead of playing three test matches in 11 days against the Wallabies.
“The choice of composition was first of all dictated by performance," Galthie said of his selections. "We tried to build again a strong team, able to match with the Australians, while sparing a group of 41 players.
“Let’s not forget that our starting vision for this tour was to discover talent.”
France led from the sixth minute of the first test until the dying seconds, with winger Gabin Villiere scoring two early tries to set up a 15-0 lead.
Near the end, France needed only to kick for touch after a defensive lineup to secure a two-point victory, and its first test win in Australia since 1990.
But an errant pass and ensuing scramble resulted in Australia’s replacement scrumhalf Tate McDermott pouncing on the ball to set up a dramatic finish.
The Australian forwards launched phase after phase at the French line and flyhalf Noah Lolesio had an attempted dropped goal charged down. A string of penalty advantages eventually resulted in Lolesio taking an easy penalty goal from directly in front to seal an Australian win.
Prop Taniela Tupou was promoted to Australia's starting lineup in the only change for the hosts.
Tupou replaced Allan Alaalatoa, who dropped to the bench, with Rennie picking the same match-day 23 for the first time in consecutive tests since taking charge last year.
“Taniela made a real impact on both sides of the ball when he came on ... and we’ll be looking for him to do the same from the get go in Melbourne,” Rennie said. “We’ve worked hard and we’re well-conditioned. A lack of accuracy in Brisbane denied us the opportunity to make the most of that, but we showed plenty of character to stay in the fight until the final whistle.”
Australia: Tom Banks, Tom Wright, Hunter Paisami, Matt Toomua, Marika Koroibete, Noah Lolesio, Jake Gordon; Harry Wilson, Michael Hooper (captain), Rob Valetini, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Matt Phillip, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, James Slipper. Reserves: Lachlan Lonergan, Angus Bell, Allan Alaalatoa, Darcy Swain, Isi Naisarani, Tate McDermott, Len Ikitau, Andrew Kellaway.
France: Melvyn Jaminet, Damian Penaud, Arthur Vincent, Jonathan Danty, Gabin Villiere, Louis Carbonel, Baptiste Couilloud; Anthony Jelonch (captain), Cameron Woki, Ibrahim Diallo, Cyril Cazeaux, Pierre-Henri Azagoh, Wilfrid Hounkpatin, Gaetan Barlot, Jean-Baptiste Gros. Reserves: Anthony Etrillard, Enzo Forletta, Demba Bamba, Killian Geraci, Romain Taofifenua, Sekou Macalou, Teddy Iribaren, Anthony Bouthier.
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