Australia and France 2021 – what a series.
One-all and now we head to Brisbane for ‘The Decider.’
After two Test matches nothing separates these two proud rugby nations.
The overall score reads 49-all.
If you love numbers, and I do, that’s just a start.
This is where one of the world’s best rugby statisticians, Kate Lorimer, gets a shout out.
She’s a gun and she helped put these numbers together for Wide World of Sports and Stan Sport.
‘The Decider’ on Saturday night marks the 50th Test match between Australia and France.
What a rivalry it’s been.
The French win in Melbourne was their first in Australia in 31 years.
READ MORE: Morgan Turinui previews the third Test in Brisbane
READ MORE: Wallabies make eight changes for deciding Test
READ MORE: Wallabies player ratings from French ambush
France break 31 year drought
This week they’ll be attempting to taste victory in Brisbane for the first time in 49 years – 16-15 at Ballymore.
They have never enjoyed back-to-back wins in Australia.
We know what history means to the French.
The occasion won’t be lost on Fabien Galthie and his men.
The Wallabies have won their past eight Tests at Suncorp Stadium, including the first Test in this series and the Bledisloe last year.
It has become a fortress for them.
Ask the players why and they struggle to put a finger on it.
As Dennis Denuto might say, it’s just the ‘vibe.’
The problem areas for the Wallabies in Melbourne are plain for all to see.
The Wallabies struggled at the breakdown, conceding six breakdown turnovers compared to France with just two, courtesy of Michael Hooper.
Where would Australia be without him right now?
The Australian lineout operated at just 70 per cent, including three losses on their own throw.
And here’s one of the big discussion points we’ll be talking about in our pre-show on Saturday night.
Take the points or kick to the corner?
It is Test rugby after all.
Prop and halfback swap jobs
The Wallabies have attempted seven shots at goal from 18 penalties earned inside the French half.
In contrast, France have taken 10 shots from 11 penalties in Australia’s half.
And when you’ve got Melvyn Jaminet and his laser Le Coq Sportif’s slotting everything why wouldn’t you take the points?
The Wallabies have dominated territory and possession across the first two Tests and have made more carries and post-contact metres but something’s not quite clicking.
They are yet to score more than two tries in a Test since the start of 2020.
French flair breaks Wallabies
That’s eight Test matches.
Dave Rennie has made eight changes to his run-on side with starting debuts for Darcy Swain, Tate McDermott and Len Ikitau.
Lachie Swinton and Filipo Daugunu will play for the first time this season.
Swinton’s ‘controlled’ aggression is something Australia desperately needs.
And back to Michael Hooper – he will captain the Wallabies for the 55th time, equalling John Eales and hot on the heels of George Gregan on 59.
Hooper gives Australia hope
Fabien Galthie has made seven changes to his starting side.
Both teams were always going to make mass changes for a third Test in 11 days.
Antoine Hastoy, who was one of Matt Philip’s team-mates at Pau in the Top 14, will make his debut at 10.
It’s the first time in 40 years France has named an uncapped fly-half to start against the Wallabies.
(Answer to the trivia question – it was Marc Sallefranque at the SCG in 1981).
Raw numbers though don’t tell the whole story.
For those out there on Saturday it’s as much about desire and belief.
For those of us with no ability to control the outcome it’s about hope and pride.
‘The Decider’… go the Wallabies.
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