France wins in Australia after 31 years by edging Wallabies

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Melvyn Jaminet landed the winning penalty with two minutes remaining as France ended a 31-year drought down under with a 28-26 win over the Wallabies on Tuesday to send the three-test series to a deciding match.

France lost the opening test by two points last Wednesday after a late blunder in their own quarter in Brisbane.

There was no mistake this time. Australia had only just taken the lead for the first time when the French pack shoved the Wallabies off the ball to earn a scrum penalty.

Jaminet coolly slotted his seventh penalty to cap the victory, a first for France in Australia since 1990, and take his personal match haul to 23 points.

The French controlled the ball in the dying minutes and kicked for touch as soon as the siren sounded, in contrast to the first test when they should have done the same thing but instead saw an errant late pass literally throw away the match.

“I’m really proud for what we’ve done tonight,” France captain Anthony Jelonch said. “We managed to do what we couldn’t do last Wednesday.”

The series-deciding third test will be on Saturday in Brisbane again.

France led most of the match, again. It had a 16-13 buffer at halftime, after Damian Penaud finished off a counterattack try in the 21st minute and Jaminet converted it and added three penalties.

Flyhalf Noah Lolesio, who kicked Australia’s stoppage-time winner in the first test, landed two penalties and converted Jake Gordon’s try just before halftime to cut the margin to three points.

Lolesio equalized at 16-all soon after the break but the French added three more penalties and led 25-16 with about 15 minutes to go and were seemingly right on top on the eve of Bastille Day.

But just as they did in the series-opener, the Australians rallied to set up a dramatic finish.

Skipper Michael Hooper dived over in the left corner to cap a long-range try in the 71st after Lolesio threw an inside pass to Tom Banks, who cut through a big gap in the defense from behind halfway and took the ball toward the attacking quarter.

His over-the-top pass to his support hit Jaminet’s hand before Andrew Kellaway regathered for Australia and unloaded to flanker Hooper to score in the corner.

Lolesio converted from the sideline to cut the gap to 25-23 and landed another penalty from 40 meters out to give Australia a 26-25 lead with five minutes remaining.

From the restart France dominated, though, eventually winning the scrum penalty that set Jaminet up to take the winning penalty and keep the series alive.


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