France 23-25 Australia: Wallabies survive late charge
Last Updated: 19/11/16 10:36pm
France missed an injury-time drop goal as stand-in fly-half Bernard Foley inspired Australia to a 25-23 win to clinch their third consecutive victory in the autumn internationals on Saturday.
Foley, who was handed a starting place after Quade Cooper was ruled out injured at the last minute, scored a try and kicked 10 points as Australia added to their victories against Wales and Scotland.
Tevita Kuridrani also touched down for Australia, who were also awarded a penalty try.
France, who produced some scintillating rugby, replied with tries by Virimi Vakatawa, Jean-Marc Doussain and Wesley Fofana, the rest of the points coming from the boot of Maxime Machenaud.
Machenaud, however, missed two conversions - and Camille Lopez a dramatic last-gasp drop-goal attempt - while Foley failed to add the extras only once in a lively encounter at the Stade de France.
Australia had rested most of their top guns for a Test that is not part of their grand-slam bid, with Israel Folau, Michael Hooper and Dane Haylett-Petty not even on the bench.
The hosts went ahead with Machenaud's first penalty after Tolu Latu played the ball off feet.
A splendid try by Vakatawa put France 8-0 up, the Fijian-born wing going over the line after expertly keeping possession through several phases of play, begun from their own 22 metres.
However, Australia turned it around with the first of the penalties from Foley, who then converted a penalty try awarded by referee Glen Jackson after Charles Ollivon collapsed a maul on the line, the French flanker picking up a yellow card in the process.
Foley extended the lead to five points with another penalty.
Australia suffered in the scrum and were penalised on the stroke of halftime, Machenaud reducing the gap to two points with a penalty.
The Wallabies were hot on the restart, Foley touching down after going through a gap in the French defence before adding the extras.
France seemed to suffer physically but they had some magic in store, winning an Australian scrum in their own five metres on the right flank, swinging the ball to the left before Doussain, after some fine work by Fofana and Vakatawa, went over the line.
The visitors hit back with a try in the right corner by Kuridrani, but France refused to buckle.
Fofana found the right line to the posts and after Machenaud converted the try, Les Bleus were two points behind. Lopez missed an injury-time drop goal, leaving France agonisingly close to victory.
Michael Cheika's side, who kicked off their tour with a 32-8 victory over Wales, play Ireland next weekend and then travel to Twickenham looking for revenge against England who whitewashed them in the three Test series in Australia in the summer.
The last time Australia claimed a Grand Slam of Home Nations was back in 1984.