France lose out to Hardy again

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The Independent Online
Australian Barbarians 26 France 25

Mitch Hardy, the outstanding player in Australia's win over France in Saturday's first Test, returned to haunt the Five Nations champions yesterday as they suffered another defeat in a bruising encounter at Newcastle.

Hardy, the winger who ran in two quick tries as a replacement to lift Australia to victory in Sydney, scored the Australian Barbarians' only try as they clinched victory with a late penalty. But France could take heart from scoring three tries to one in their last warm-up match before the second Test at Ballymore in Brisbane on Saturday.

The Barbarians, effectively Australia's second-string side, kicked seven penalties in a match which saw several ugly clashes. "There was a lot of niggling out there," said the Barbarians captain and hooker, Phil Kearns.

The crowd jeered the former Wallaby captain on several occasions when he opted for a kick at goal instead of running the ball in the Barbarian tradition. France scored their tries through the centres David Dantiacq and Christophe Lamaison and the prop Didier Casadei. Sebastien Viars and Richard Dourthe kicked one conversion and one penalty each.

The Barbarians stand-off, Christian Warner, kicked six penalties and his late replacement, Manuel Edmonds, landed the match-winning penalty in the final minutes.

The tourists, who were unhappy with the refereeing in the first Test in Sydney, stayed in touch with their opponents on Tuesday despite a penalty count of 26 to 9 against them. Hardy is expected to take his place on Australia's reserves bench at Ballymore again, after the first-choice Test full-back, Matt Burke, withdrew yesterday because of a groin injury.

Australian Barbarians: Try M Hardy; Penalties C Warner 6, M Edmonds. France: Tries D Dantiacq, D Casadei, C Lamaison; Conversion S Viars, R Dourthe; Penalties Viars, Dourthe.