The Wallabies made a late charge but were made to pay for too many mistakes as Les Bleus backed up last week’s win over Fiji with a 29-26 win.
For the hosts fly-half Camille Lopez’s boot accounted for 16 points along with an early try from Sebastien Tillous-Borde and another first-half five-pointer from flying winger Teddy Thomas.
Australia’s Bernard Foley continued his sensational form with the boot – he’s now kicked 16 of his last 17 – to keep the visitor in touch and Adam Ashley-Cooper’s try five minutes from the break meant it was all to play for at 17-16.
French substitutions saw their pack beefed up and it paid off as they dominated possession and territory.
Remi Tales was sin-binned inside the last 10 minutes putting the tiring hosts’ backs against the wall, but despite a late try from Rob Simmons – converted by dead-eye Foley – managed to hold on.
The return of Quade Cooper from the bench more than a year since his last Test was another key moment for the Aussies, and his deft hands can take a big part of the credit for Simmons’ score. But his injection was not enough as the Aussies now face an even tougher test against Ireland next week.
SCOTLAND 16-24 NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand were pushed all the way by Scotland but their class again proved too great at Murrayfield.
The return of Dan Carter for his first Test start in a year in an experimental line-up wasn’t as intimidating as it could have been but No 8 Victor Vito battered the line to cross for the All Blacks opener, but that was cancelled out by Tommy Seymour.
Scottish playmaker Greig Laidlaw had a chance at a penalty to put the underdogs ahead late on, but a try from Jeremy Thrush was a kick in the guts for the spirited hosts.
But it was a display Scotland’s Kiwi head coach Vern Cotter should find encouraging.
“I feel sorry for Greig,” said Cotter, who replaced Aussie Scott Johnson. “If it had gone over and we’d gone in front then you never know but it didn’t and then we let them get back over the line.
“They’re disappointed and sometimes it’s the way things go but it wasn’t for lack of courage and effort.
“The players showed the standards they want to set when they’re wearing this jersey and in front of their crowd.”
ENGLAND 28-31 SOUTH AFRICA
England are in dire straits in the English press are to be believed after falling to a fifth Test loss in a row, this time against South Africa, the world’s second best side (the other four have been against the best, New Zealand).
The scoreboard was flattering again after a late try saw them come a close 31-28 at Twickenham on Saturday, following their 24-21 defeat by the All Blacks last week.
Lancaster is refusing to panic though.
“When you’ve got a team which has still got some development to do, we’ll not panic, lose our nerve, or deviate from the course we’re on,” Lancaster said.
“We’ve never said we’re the finished article. When we took the roles we knew we had to take a young group of players through some tough environments.”
WALES 17-13 FIJI
Wales were too close for comfort in their win over a 14-man Fiji in Cardiff, with coach Warren Gatland blaming the referee as his side bounced back unconvincingly from last week’s loss to Australia.
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