Wallabies strike rock bottom after French lesson

France 26 Australia 16
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The Independent Online

Jones, the coach since 2001, will name his XV to face England on Thursday and the areas of concern are manifold. The fly-half Matt Giteau's kicking out of hand was dreadful, Australia's perennial struggles in the scrummage are not abating, and Brendan Cannon's throwing-in to the line-out was more miss than hit. A loose Cannon, indeed.

Jones, who needs no reminding that his side are on the point of emulating the seven matches in a row lost by the woeful Wallabies of 1968-69, was asked if he felt under personal pressure. "Mmm, I think that would be an understatement. I take responsibility for the performance of the side and it wasn't good enough."

George Gregan was a peripheral figure on the occasion of his world record 115th cap for a single country, which is saying something for a captain and scrum-half. Jones may promote one or more of the young bucks, including Lloyd Johansson and Drew Mitchell in the backs.

But there were words of encouragement from Thomas Castaignède, who returned to French Test duty after a 29-month gap. "I'm not scared for Australia, " said the Saracens utility back. "They've got the team to win in England. This guy Mitchell is a danger and this new centre, Johansson - phew, he's good. The biggest mistake England could make is not to take Australia seriously."

France's own Test centurion Fabien Pelous made what appeared a blatant elbow into the face of Cannon early in the second half. The match commissioner, Peter Brown of Scotland, has until 11pm today to consider citing the French captain.

There was a French try in each half from Cédric Heymans and Rémy Martin, but fly-half Frédéric Michalak went off with a sore neck and yesterday the injury-ridden Bleus made five changes in a squad of 23 for the second of their autumn Tests against Canada on Saturday.

Wasps' hooker Raphaël Ibañez was called up, but Sale's Sébastien Chabal was released.

France: Tries Heymans, Martin; Conversions Elissalde 2; Penalties Elissalde 3, Michalak.

Australia: Try Mitchell; Conversion Rogers; Penalties Rogers 3.

France: J Laharrague (Perpignan); A Rougerie (Clermont-Auvergne), Y Jauzion, F Fritz, C Heymans; F Michalak, J-B Elissalde (all Toulouse); O Milloud (Bourgoin), D Szarzewski, P de Villiers (both Stade Français), F Pelous (Toulouse, capt), J Thion (Biarritz), Y Nyanga (Toulouse), R Martin (Stade Français), T Lièvremont (Biarritz). Replacements: T Castaignède (Saracens) for Jauzion, 66; Y Delaigue (Castres) for Michalak, 46; S Marconnet (Stade Français) for Milloud, 72; S Bruno (Sale Sharks) for Szarzewski, 61; L Nallet (Castres) for Pelous, 70; G Lamboley (Toulouse) for Nyanga, 79; S Chabal (Sale Sharks) for Lièvremont, 78.

Australia: C Latham (Queensland Reds); W Sailor, L Tuqiri, M Turinui, M Rogers (all NSW Waratahs); M Giteau (ACT Brumbies), G Gregan (ACT, capt); M Dunning, B Cannon (both NSW), A Baxter (NSW), M Chisholm (ACT), N Sharpe (Western Force), R Elsom (NSW), G Smith (ACT), P Waugh (NSW). Replacements: L Johansson (QLD) for Turinui, 61; D Mitchell (QLD) for Giteau, 65; G Holmes (QLD) for Dunning, 80; S Moore (QLD) for Cannon 50-64, 78; H McMeniman (QLD) for Chisholm, 67; J Roe (QLD) for Elsom, 58.

Referee: P Honiss (New Zealand).

Attendance: 60,000.