A shocker of a night for French fly half David Skrela helped Australia to an 18-13 win over France at the Stade de France on Saturday. Following a resounding victory at Twickenham, the win caps a highly successful autumn tour for the Wallabies.
Australia recorded their first victory over France on French soil since 2000 at the Stade de France on Saturday thanks largely to a terrible kicking performance by David Skrela as the visitors ran out 18-13 victors.
The Toulouse star missed five penalties and a drop goal and to cap it all was yellowcarded five minutes from time.
The Wallabies scored two tries through hooker Stephen Moore and Peter Hynes to France's one, a penalty try.
"It's always a hard battle to play the French at home," said Wallabies fly-half, and man of the match, Matt Giteau.
"We could have killed the game but we are happy with the win."
Neither side could dominate in the early stages though Skrela should have put the hosts ahead with a penalty in the second minute and was to miss with an even easier drop goal attempt in the eighth minute.
France's cult hero Sebastien Chabal saved his side when he intercepted Luke Burgess's pass as the Aussie was being tackled by Benoit Baby deep inside the hosts 22, and duly booted it to safety.
The mediocrity even got to Australian captain Stirling Mortlock as the veteran centre - the only survivor from the last Wallaby team to beat France at home - failed to land a penalty from long range just after the 20 minute mark.
The crowd were mightily relieved when the deadlock was finally broken in the 29th minute as Giteau landed a penalty when France flanker Thierry Dusautoir was penalised.
This appeared to calm Australia and within two minutes they had scored a try as Moore burrowed over despite Dusautoir's best efforts to stop him after a fine break by the Aussie backs. Giteau converted to make it 10-0.
France had the chance to reduce the deficit in the 34th minute but again Skrela failed to find the mark with a penalty, and the Toulouse star showed his frustration by waving his arms in frustration.
Two minutes later and the boos rang out as he missed with another attempt.
However, an inexpilcable error by Burgess, when his pass went sailing out over his own deadball line, gave France a scrum and they duly earned a penalty try as the Aussies cracked.
Skrela put his worries aside and converted to make it just 10-7 to Wallabies at the break.
France, who lost captain Lionel Nallet shortly after the restart, were level at 10-10 when Skrela at last managed to land a penalty in the 49th minute after an Australian was penalised for coming in at the side.
Their renewed confidence was further in evidence as Medard succeeded with an audacious long range drop goal in the 52nd minute to give them a 13-10 advantage
However, the Aussies replied in impressive fashion with a smart backline move seeing Giteau pass to Mortlock who offloaded to Hynes who then touched down in the corner, for his third try for his country, to make it 15-13 but Giteau failed to convert.
Skrela's woes with the boot continued as he had a chance to restore the hosts' lead 10 minutes from time but once again it went wide of the posts.
Two minutes later he had another chance and yet again failed with the boot.
Giteau made no mistake with five minutes remaining to give the Wallabies a crucial five point lead and Skrela's truly horrible evening was capped when he was yellow-carded with four minutes remaing for a high tackle.
Date created : 2008-11-22