The Wallabies have opened 2014 in sizzling style by thrashing an overwhelmed France 50-23 at Suncorp Stadium.
Australia were ruthless on Saturday night in an attacking masterclass to pick up where they left off at the end of last year’s European tour.
The seven-try blitz was their highest score over Les Blues on Australian soil and their fifth straight Test win – equalling their best streak in nine years – much to the delight of a 33,718-strong Brisbane crowd.
The only worry was the early loss of new skipper Stephen Moore who is in grave doubt for the rest of the three-Test series with a suspected medial ligament tear.
Flanker Michael Hooper stepped up to the plate as stand-in captain and led from the front in a superb display in attack, defence and on the ball.
Pre-match concerns over the Wallabies rookie halves pair and their second-row were unfounded as Nic White and Bernard Foley impressed and debutant lock Sam Carter was named man of the match.
When Israel Folau loped 50m and put replacement Pat McCabe over with his first touch of the ball in the 71st minute, Australia led the outclassed tourists 50-9.
Folau also scored a try of his own and played a key role in the try of the night with Nick Cummins finishing a beautiful backline move.
To their credit, the French bench made a late impact and closed 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 where they were helped along by the fumbling French.
Foley and White took to their task with relish – finding a hungry array of runners with wide passes that Quade Cooper would be proud of.
But it was 50-cap forwards Wycliff Palu and James Slipper, a stand out in his 65 minutes, who were the unlikely duo to combine and help put Folau over for the opening try in the 19th minute.
Vice-captain Adam Ashley-Cooper was quickly over for the second thanks to a clever grubber by Foley for Cummins before a dropped intercept allowed Matt Toomua to put his winger over.
While centre Wesley Fofana looked dangerous early, France only hung in through the boot of veteran flyhalf Frederic Michalak.
But the Wallabies were far more clinical in attack with Tevita Kuridrani producing a deft volleyball bump for Hooper to score in the 32nd minute.
Toomua’s try just before the break epitomised the game when he pounced on a loose ball that debutant winger Felix le Bourhis left behind him following a turnover from a Rob Simmons break.