The Wallabies shrugged off a controversial no-try ruling and a late raid by a re-energised France to claim a 6-0 win and series bragging rights in Melbourne on Saturday.
Wallabies grind out a win
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Wallabies grind out a win
In a low scoring win Australia were victorious over France in the second test in Melbourne on Saturday night.
It is the second time Australia have been held tryless in the Ewen McKenzie era and will not win rugby any more fans in Melbourne, with a paltry 27,189 turning up to Etihad Stadium.
The patchy Wallabies performance included three missed shots for goal and more kicking than a football World Cup fixture, much of it executed poorly and by characters as unlikely as Nick Cummins and Israel Folau.
It will give France the confidence they need to go all-out for a face-saving win in Sydney next week.
But Australia expected nothing less from Les Bleus after Philippe Saint-Andre took a hacksaw to the side that conceded seven tries and 50 points in Brisbane.
Australian captain Michael Hooper said on Friday the Wallabies would need to find a way to win in Melbourne and find one they did, shrugging off Ben McCalman's disallowed try and a suffocating defensive effort from the visitors to build a victory off the smell of an oily rag.
Television match official Vinny Munro played his part, ruling Matt Toomua had played fullback Brice Dulin off the ball when Ben McCalman grounded his centre's kick in the 22nd minute.
Otherwise, credit must go to France for doing their homework and killing off every ounce of the Wallabies' first-Test joie de vivre.
Gone was the seven-try, 50-point vibrance that course through Australia in Brisbane. In its place, a less certain side, rattled by France's abrasiveness and fondness for unstructured play.
It took the Wallabies 53 minutes to score their first points and France missed their two shots at goal in the first half to play their own part in the loss. But Saint-Andre's 10 changes paid off handsomely, whether it was the one-on-one brilliance of fullback Dulin or the back row's work at the breakdown.
The Wallabies were wobbly early on, whether it was a misfiring touch-finder from Israel Folau, James Horwill's high tackle on fullback Dulin or James Slipper - later voted man of the match - collapsing an otherwise strong Australian scrum.
France went on the attack, targeting the breakdown much harder than last week, when Australia enjoyed largely uncontested possession.
Horwill's 50th Test for the Wallabies unfolded in at-times disappointing fashion, a side entry at the ruck handing France the first points-scoring opportunity of the night. Dulin took the ambitious 50m shot at goal and had the distance, but not the angle.
McCalman's no-try came next and France botched their second penalty attempt, from halfback Morgan Parra.
Toomua survived a scare with a charged down kick that very nearly led to France's first try. Blindside breakaway Yannick Nyanga had a clear run to the line but was pulled up in time and Australia extracted a penalty to escape to the halftime break without conceding any points.
Halfback Nic White missed a shot at goal from 42 metres back three minutes into the second half and missed a second shot two minutes later.
Michael Hooper made the biggest call of his new captaincy with a call to kick for goal in the 52nd minute. The Wallabies had been pressuring the French try line but were being repelled at every turn.
When Barnes pinged the visitors for being offside, Hooper pointed to the posts and Foley obliged, registering the first points of the match in the 53rd minute.
It was the call that saved Australia's bacon in hindsight, and White's shot in the 65th minute was to be the final score of the match.
The Wallabies survived a French resurgence in the final 10 minutes to leave 6-0 victors with the series locked away before the third Test in Sydney.