Coach Dave Rennie said he was “wrapped with the character and attitude” shown by the Wallabies during their thrilling Test against France on Sunday morning (AEDT).
The Wallabies were less than five minutes away from an incredible upset win over Les Bleus at Stade de France, before some individual brilliance from winger Damian Penaud gave the hosts the lead.
It was a heartbreaking moment for Australian rugby fans, and fullback Jock Campbell, as they fell just short of ending France’s incredible unbeaten run.
Australia had just extended their lead to four points moments earlier through a Reece Hodge penalty, before Penaud scored about 50 seconds after the kick-off.
“Our guys are gutted because they emptied out the tanks tonight,” Rennie told reporters after the 30-29 result.
“We’re all pretty disappointed but look I’m really wrapped with the character and the attitude.
“No one really gave us a chance to come here to Paris and take on a French side that’s been very impressive over the last 15 months.
“We talked about playing without fear and competing hard and throwing everything at them and we did that for a big chunk of the game. Disappointing outcome but proud of (the) effort.”
After a fairly even start to the Test, Australia raced out to a seven-point lead inside-20 minutes after a stunning length of the field try scored by Lalakai Foketi.
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But France fought their way back, and took the lead for the first time through a try to Julien Marchand around half-time.
Fullback Jock Campbell scored Australia’s only try of the second half in the 56th minute, also his first in Test rugby, which had the Wallabies within reach of an almighty upset.
While they couldn’t hold on for the win, France had showed the rugby world once again why they’re among the favourites for next year’s World Cup.
Reflecting on the Test, Rennie said France are especially dangerous when they’re “prepared to throw the ball around.”
“Where France are dangerous is from penalty advantage of knock-on advantages and they’ll play a lot then. They’ve got great athletes in the backs and forwards who can hurt you,” Rennie added.
“They offloaded a hell of a lot more than us, I think the offloading count was like 16 to two. When they’ve got an advantage they’re prepared to throw the ball around.”
Wallabies captain James Slipper said the Test match was exactly what his side expected.
“They’re a French team, they’ve built up a fair bit of momentum over the last one and a half years so we knew what we were up against,” Slipper said.
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“We knew we had to be playing really good rugby to be in with a shot tonight and I thought we did that.
“It came down to the wire just like last week and just like Ren (Dave Rennie) said, we came out second best tonight, but I was extremely proud of how we performed tonight, how we prepared during the week, and how we turned up tonight.
“They’re a good team. They took their final opportunity and won the game.”
The Wallabies’ record on their five-match spring tour now sits at one win and one loss, after their thrilling one-point win over Scotland last week.
Next up is a trip to Florence where they’ll go up against Italy, before facing Ireland and Wales.