Lièvremont at a loss after Australia tear France apart

France 16 Australia 59
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The Independent Online

France coach Marc Lièvremont was still in a state of shock yesterday but vowed to "continue to fight" after a record hammering by Australia wrecked his World Cup plans.

"As you can imagine, we had a short night and we still can't explain how we collapsed mentally and physically, individually and collectively in the last 30 minutes of the game," Lièvremont said. "I think it's just impossible to explain the inexplicable.

"Of course, the Wallabies play fabulous rugby and when you think their average age is 23 or 24... but still it doesn't explain how we collapsed in all sectors of the game and how they punished us beyond what's imaginable," he added. "I'm not a man to quit. I'll continue to fight. The only thing that could push me to go would be the feeling that the players are letting me down and not adhering to our plans any more. It's not the case."

After victories over Fiji and Argentina, Six Nations champions France were hoping to come out of their November Tests with a morale-boosting clean sheet for the first time since 2005 – also the year they last beat Australia.

Lièvremont was seen smiling on the screens of the Stade de France when Morgan Parra put France ahead for the first time, 13-10, just after the break. But then disaster struck. In 30 minutes of flamboyant rugby, the Wallabies piled on 49 points, adding six tries to a first scored after only four minutes.

With a year to go to the World Cup, the mix of youth, speed and initiative of the Wallabies exposed the vulnerability of the old-fashioned power game France were relying on to counter the southern hemisphere nations. France's only weapon on Saturday was their scrum – which won them a penalty try but ultimately proved useless when the Australians opened the gates of their flowing rugby.

Lièvremont has continued to test new players like full-back Jerome Porical and wing Yoann Huget. "The choice of players is not the problem," the France coach said. "If I had selected Imanol Harinordoquy instead of Chabal, Clement Poitrenaud instead of Porical, Vincent Clerc instead of Huget, I don't think it would have made any difference."