There were many similarities between the first and second Tests played by Australia and France and from the Wallabies’ point of view it was another reminder of the importance of set piece.
And when things broke down it was once again at the breakdown.
Wallabies fans will be left with those familiar feelings of frustration mixed with hope.
It was another lesson in how to play Test rugby, dealt out by a team with significantly less experience at that level.
France were good at set piece, especially in the moments that mattered and at the back end of the game.
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They were comfortable playing without the ball for long periods of time and got maximum reward in the periods where they had opportunities to accumulate points.
They started well and were physical throughout the match.
These are the minimum requirements of Test rugby and they are also the minimum requirements for success in France’s Top 14 and European competitions.
These talented young French players have 40 of these games a year.
This is context, not an excuse and the Wallabies need to be much better at managing the game, improve their attacking decision making as well as having much more consistency in their breakdown to excel in the Test arena.
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There’s enough rugby IP in this Wallaby playing group and staff to know that.
The messaging pre, during and post both Tests has highlighted this.
To win the third Test and the series, that knowledge and talk must become 80 minutes of action.
Many individual players improved their contributions after the six day back up.
Tom Wright had an unhappy night that doesn’t align with two years of consistent performances for the Brumbies.
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He’ll bounce back.
As for the rest there is plenty to be encouraged by.
Collectively the Wallabies found more space on the edges after some direct running in the middle of the park kept the excellent French defence condensed.
Australia continues to search for balance between proactive kicking and ball in hand attack.
These are hallmarks of the Nic White/James O’Connor combination and this series has been great for Jake Gordon, Noah Lolesio and Tate McDermott to test their game management skills in gold jerseys.
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The Wallabies conversion rate from entries into the attacking 22 into points has hurt them so far in this series.
Australia has averaged 10 visits into France’s 22 but are only returning 1.85 points per visit.
Les Bleus, meanwhile, have averaged only 4.5 visits but have been twice as efficient with 3.44 points per visit.
The Australian forwards have worked hard and well to carry in this zone.
Highlights: Wallabies vs France 2nd Test
It will be important in the third Test that the backs share the workload in this zone and also call for the ball when the French forward pack inevitably becomes condensed.
The issue so far has been France’s ability to slow the ball down enough in the tackle to re-align and cover when the backs decide to strike.
The Wallaby playmakers must call for the ball off a strong carry with speed on the ball.
Therein lies the destiny of this third Test on Saturday night at Suncorp.
Set piece. Speed of ball. Speed of thought.