Michalak shines in French victory

GARETH DUNCAN watched Frederic Michalak excel at flyhalf as France broke their seven-year losing streak to Australia with a 33-6 triumph in Paris.

It was a strong team performance that saw Les Bleus dominate in what proved to be a one-sided contest. The hosts held the ascendancy up front as the injury-hit Wallabies were bullied at the Stade de France.

Michalak used this platform to spearhead his team to the win. While the former Sharks pivot has received limited game time in the No 10 jersey at his club Toulon so far in the European season, he dazzled with an impressive all-round performance on this occasion.

He kicked 15 points via three conversions, two penalties and a drop goal, and it was his individual brilliance from a quick throw that set up wing Wesley Fofana for the team’s second try. He showed great pace and a good step to pass opposite number Kurtley Beale, before offloading to the supporting speedster.

No 8 Louis Picamoles, who also put in a strong display, crossed the chalk in the opening 40, while France were also awarded a penalty try. Replacement scrumhalf Morgan Parra completed the rout with a late shot at goal.

Wallabies fullback Mike Harris converted two penalties in the opening 40, which proved to the tourists’ only points of the game.

It was Harris who opened the scoring in the eighth minute, but France surged into a 10-point lead thanks to Picamoles’ charge from close range and Michalak’s boot (a conversion and two penalties).

Michalak and Harris traded three-pointers before the break as the French led 16-6 at half-time.

In the second stanza, the Wallabies faltered as France surged to victory with a slick attacking performance and a resilient defence.

Fofana’s score created a comfortable buffer in the third quarter, while referee Nigel Owens’ decision to award the home team a penalty try sealed matters. The Wallabies created a few try-scoring opportunities during the half, but they failed to convert any of them.