Israel Folau and Will Skelton provided renewed hope for Bledisloe Cup success, as the exciting Wallabies double-act combined to sink France 39-13 on Saturday at Allianz Stadium.
Two cornerstones of Australia’s future starred in front of a record crowd of 43,188 on a picture-perfect afternoon in Sydney to clinch the Wallabies’ first 3-0 clean-sweep of the French.
Their impressive five-tries to one win marked their seventh-straight victory, the longest streak for an Australian side since 1999-2000 when they were last world champions.
It was a big day out for the NSW Waratahs, who will next week resume their push towards a Super Rugby home semi-final.
All points were scored by NSW players and man of the match went to Waratahs powerhouse Wycliff Palu.
New Zealand’s Bledisloe Cup dynasty stretches back to 2003, but the Wallabies enter August’s first Test with rare momentum.
Giant debutant Skelton announced himself to international rugby with a bang, crashing over with just his third touch after eight minutes.
After he was silenced by France in last week’s 6-0 slugfest in Melbourne, Folau came to life in front of the biggest rugby crowd at the Sydney Football Stadium to cross in the corner and boost Australia to a 20-6 halftime lead.
Then just two minutes into the second half, Skelton defied his 2.03 metre, 140kg frame to pop a gem of a ball to a flying Folau who saluted the crowd before crashing over.
If the Wallabies hadn’t sent a clear enough message to the All Blacks that they were coming with a new vigour in 2014, it was reinforced when skipper Michael Hooper swan-dived over in the 61st minute.
Reserve halfback Nick Phipps crossed for his first Test try inside the final five minutes to complete the ‘Tah-fest’.
It was a nice 49th birthday present for Ewen McKenzie, but there’s still plenty for the coach to think about before he gets his players back in camp for their Bledisloe and Rugby Championship preparations.
Execution in attack was poor at times, and there slip-ups at the set-piece, but the Wallabies played with intent and shape in their attack to suggest last week’s tryless Test was an aberration.
Folau’s double was his third in just 18 Tests, and brought his overall count up to 13 five-pointers.
Skelton made his presence felt in a promising debut, the earth shuddering at one point in the first half when he cleaned out French players like a bulldozer.