Rugby Union: Eales' boot foils French


France's attempt to fly the Northern Hemisphere flag Down Under came unstuck when they lost the Second Test to Australia 26-19 at Ballymnore to go down to a 2-0 series defeat against the Wallabies.

The Australians outscored the French by three tries to one but had to defend desperately against some surging second-half French attack. Australia raced to a 17-0 lead, but then France responded to the challenge and their tremendous fightback took them to within a point of the Wallabies at 20- 19 in the second half. They could not maintain their effort, though, and the Australian captain John Eales landed two penalty goals to seal the result.

France's flair kept the visitors within sight of Australia in the first half, and the visitors were unstoppable in the last 10 minutes of the half to trail 20-13 at the break. That was a remarkable effort considering the start of the game, in which Australia scored three unanswered tries in 18 minutes through the prop Richard Harry, winger Ben Tune and centre Jason Little. France then kicked the first of two penalty goals and Eales landed one himself, before then French turned on their magical style to score their try - Thomas Castaignede finishing a movement which lasted for minutes with countless short, sharp passes to players coming from everywhere. In the second half, Christophe Lamaison kicked the French to within a point with two penalties before Eales stepped in.

Meanwhile Sean Fitzpatrick's All Blacks, who Australia play on Saturday in the Bledisloe Cup continued their relentlessly impressive build-up with their second demolition of the Argentinians in a week. True, in Hamilton yesterday they could not repeat their 90-point thrashing of seven days previously, but their 62-10 left little doubt as to their well-being at the moment.

They ran in nine tries to one, scoring five in the second half, and, claimed their coach, John Hart, would and should have had more. Hart was critical of the Pumas' approach, saying the visitors appeared more intent on disrupting the All Blacks than on playing constructive rugby. "I thought they went out there and played negatively," Hart said. "I think they were trying to keep the scores down."

Argentina's technical adviser Alex Wyllie, a former All Blacks coach, said Argentina just could not string together any continuity, and that the All Blacks had too much class for the Pumas.

The Pumas did not escape their own half during the first 13 minutes, during which time the flanker Taine Randell scored the opening try. The prop Olo Brown scored the second, followed by Lee Stensness and Christian Cullen. But with the Argentine loose forwards coming through too quickly and the backline encroaching, the All Blacks were rarely able to string together more than two or three phases of play.

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