Matt finishes off the French as Wallabies find their feet

Australia 22 France 6
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The Independent Online

Fly-half Matt Giteau scored a first-half try and kicked five penalties and a conversion to account for all of Australia's points in a thumping victory over France in the Olympic stadium here yesterday.

Giteau scored the only try in the 18th minute as the Wallabies won for the fourth time in a row over France and prevented the visitors from winning for the first time in Australia since 1990.

France drew 1-1 in their two-Test series against New Zealand earlier this month, winning the first 27-22 and losing the second 14-10. Australia had won two Tests in a row against Italy over the past two weekends.

After Australia led 10-3 at half-time, Giteau kicked penalties in the 44th, 46th, 52nd and 57th minutes to slowly put France out of the match.

Australia flanker George Smith, in his 99th Test appearance, was named man of the match. "It was good tonight, the scrum and the line-out," Smith said. "So we were very pleased with some aspects of the game – it was pretty intense at the breakdown too, but I know we can improve on that."

Smith equalled Jason Little's record of 11 Tests for Australia against France, and will likely play his 100th Test against the All Blacks in Auckland on 18 July.

It was the final Test of the season for France, while the Wallabies, who have won all four of their matches this year after a win over the Barbarians, have a three-week break before the start of the Tri-Nations against New Zealand and South Africa.

Australia captain Stirling Mortlock said it was a difficult win against the French, who were missing a handful of first-choice players after a long season in Europe but were outplayed by the Wallabies who tackled everything France threw at them.

"The intensity certainly stepped up tonight," said Mortlock. "Possibly we were our own worst enemies – we had the opportunity to go out wide and we let ourselves down. But it was a good base going into the Tri-Nations."

Mortlock said the Wallabies were looking forward to a break after playing matches on four consecutive weekends. "It's good for the boys to have a lay-off," Mortlock added. "Everybody gets home to their family for a week or so."

Giteau's haul of 22 points was just three short of the Australian record against France which was set by Matthew Burke in the 1999 World Cup final in Cardiff. Members of the triumphant Wallaby team from '99 were presented to the crowd yesterday as part of a 10-year celebration of their success.

Australia: Ashley-Cooper; Turner, Mortlock (Cross, 76), Barnes (O'Connor, 70), Mitchell; Giteau, Burgess (Valentine, 72); Robinson, Moore (Polota-Nau, 60), Baxter (Alexander, 55), Horwill (Pocock, 62), Sharpe, Mumm, Smith, Brown (Waugh, 74).

France: Traille; Medard, Fritz (Arias, 55), Mermoz, Heymans; Beauxis, Yachvili; Barcella, Szarzewski (Guirado, 61), Marconnet (Mas, 51), Pape, Millo-Chluski (Martin, 62), Dusautoir, Ouedraogo, Puricelli (Dupuy, 66). Replacements not used: Chouly, Clerc.

Referee: D Pearson (England).