Australia beats France 50-23 in 1st rugby test

Associated Press
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Australia's Matt Toomua, right, is tackled by France's Bernard le Roux, center, and Frederic Michalak during their rugby test match in Brisbane, Australia, Saturday, June 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Winger Nick Cummins scored his fourth try in his last four matches to help Australia easily beat France 50-23 on Saturday, extending the Wallabies' winning streak to five matches and end a run of season-opening losses.

Australia was playing its first rugby match of the season after closing its 2013 European tour with four straight wins. It had previously lost its last three season-opening matches, falling to Samoa in 2011, Scotland in 2012 and the British and Irish Lions in 2013.

France was attempting to beat the Wallabies for the first time in Australia since 1990.

The teams will play a second test next Saturday in Melbourne and a third in Sydney on June 21.

Hooker Stephen Moore lasted just five minutes in his first game as Wallabies captain, seriously injuring his left knee in the opening minute of play. The 92-test hooker was treated on the ground after falling awkwardly while making a tackle from the side against a French attacker.

Moore was replaced by Tatafu Polota-Nau, while flanker Michael Hooper took over as captain.

"I wasn't out there for much of it, but we played well," Moore said. "I'll have a scan now and see where I am for the next match."

Pre-match concerns over the Wallabies' rookie halves pair and their second row were unfounded as Nic White and Bernard Foley played strongly and lock Sam Carter was named man of the match.

Australia opened up a 50-9 lead when Israel Folau ran 50 meters and put replacement Pat McCabe over with his first touch of the ball in the 71st minute. Folau also scored a try of his own and played a key role in the try of the night with Cummins finishing a backline move.

France ended the game with two five-pointers, including a pushover penalty try on fulltime. The Wallabies led 29-9 at halftime, with the game all but over following a four-try first-half.

Foley and White started strongly, but it was 50-test forwards Wycliff Palu and James Slipper who combined to help put Folau over for the opening try in the 19th minute.

"Seven tries is a good indicator of our intentions," Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said. "I wanted a statement to reward the players for what they have put in this week. Stephen's (Moore) injury is definitely a medial ligament. Very disappointing for him. You don't lie in bed at night imagining that is going to happen.

"Tatafu Polota-Nau did a great job coming in. Solving problems is what test rugby is all about."

Veteran flyhalf Frederic Michalak kicked 13 of France's points. It was the first time since June 2013 that the 69-cap veteran was named as the starting flyhalf, although he played two tests off the bench last November.

"Not a very good effort," said Michalak. "We will have to regroup and get set for next week in Melbourne."



Australia 50 (Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Nick Cummins, Israel Folau, Michael Hooper, Pat McCabe, Matt Toomua tries; Bernard Foley 6 conversions, penalty), France 23 (Morgan Parra try, penalty try; Frederic Michalak 2 conversions, 2 penalties, dropped goal). HT: 29-9.