French fall short but expose Wallabies' frailties
RUGBY UNION: Australian coach Michael Cheika knows his Wallabies must improve their scrum when they resume their grand slam bid against Ireland next weekend.
Australia's second-stringers, dubbed by the French press as the B-team or "equipe biz”, clinched a thrilling 25-23 win over Les Bleus at Stade de France.
But France took toll on the Wallabies' fragile scrum.
"We were beaten in the scrum area,” Cheika said. "One key scrum we got turned over but we'll fight back.
"We've come a long way in the scrum and maybe the combination of tactics tonight didn't work for us in that area.
"We'll get our stuff right and get ready for both games that we've got next week.”
Cheika defended his line-up against France.
He brought in James Slipper, Tolu Latu, Allan Alaalatoa, Kane Douglas, Rob Simmons, Scott Fardy, Sean McMahon, Kyle Godwin, Sefania Naivalu and Luke Morahan.
"When a player steps inside a gold jersey he knows who he has to be,” Cheika said.
"We've been working really hard on that this year with a new group of players and that's all I wanted them to do tonight.
"Whether they were labelled as the 'equipe biz' or not or the first team, I was just really proud of the effort.
"We made some mistakes as well but I feel like there was a lot of commitment there from our lads.”
Cheika knows the full-strength Wallabies face a big ask next Sunday (AEST) against the Irish at Landsdowne Road.
The Irish will be determined to to come back from their 21-9 loss to the All Blacks on Saturday to reverse the shock win by the men in green in Chicago two weeks back.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said after the win that Ireland had an expectation "they should be winning Test matches”.
"I think that comes from simply that - winning Test matches,” he said. "I think there is a willingness and a desire to be better all the time.
"That's a sign of a good team that is going places. So I think if they play with their same character that they played with against us, I think they'll just get better, better and better, and they'll be harder and harder to beat.”
Ireland could be without flyhalf Johnny Sexton on the weekend after he went off in the loss to the All Blacks with a hamstring injury in the first quarter of the match.
Also under a cloud for the Wallabies Test are flanker CJ Stander, fullback Rob Kearney and inside centre Robbie Henshaw, who all face concussion checks.
The Irish came away from the game feeling gutted they let a chance slip to score a second win over the All Blacks after beating them in Chicago a couple of weeks ago.
"We're frustrated and annoyed,” Ireland captain Rory Best said.
"But we've got to park a bit of that as well, and make sure we move on to focusing on Australia.”
For Australia against the French, flyhalf Bernard Foley, a late replacement for injured Quade Cooper, scored 15 points from a try, two penalty goals and two conversions.
A spectacular try by Tevita Kuridrani was one of the match's highlights.
He fended off French No.6 Charles Ollivon before acrobatically planting the ball one-handed with his airborne body over the touchline.
"We all thought we were watching NRL for a moment when he went in with his whole body over the sideline,” Cheika said.
The French had a last-minute chance to snatch a win, but Camille Lopez's attempted drop-goal winner in injury time drifted wide left.
It was an outstanding performance by David Pocock, in his first match as skipper since 2012, that drove the Wallabies' win.
Cheika called Pocock inspirational.
"I think we all know what David brings as a leader. Today he played as a leader and captain,” Cheika said.
"And I think that inspires other players around him and it certainly inspires me watching him in the game when you see a leader take it on like that.
"Full credit to him because he was one of the players that was retained in the team, he knew he had a job to do and he took it on with both hands.”