- As it happened
- Ewen McKenzie’s captains lead way in renovation of team culture
- Nic White and Bernard Foley pass first Wallaby test with flying colours
- Stephen Moore injury the only downer in Wallabies romp
- Winners and losers
The Wallabies shrugged off the devastating loss of a new captain within a minute of kick-off to demolish a bamboozled France and notch their fifth win in a row for the first time since 2008.
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Wallabies defeat France in Test opener
Australia beat France 50-23 in their Test opener at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
Israel Folau kicked off the field day with his 11th Test try in the 19th minute and the Wallabies piled on another six to stamp their authority on the three-Test series with a 50-23 win in front of a 33,718 crowd at Suncorp Stadium.
The Wallabies broke France's spirit with four tries in the first half to lead 29-9 at the break. Les Bleus, often described as mercurial, were just flat. There was a glimmer of danger early on but the Wallabies snuffed it out.
It started terribly, with Moore hobbling off with a suspected medial ligament tear that could rule him out for the rest of the series.
The injury, inflicted when French breakaway Bernard Le Roux fell heavily on Moore's left knee within the first minute, would have unsettled a side in possession of even a modicum of self-doubt. But the Wallabies appear to be fanning the embers of genuine self-belief, playing on unhindered to claim first points while Moore sat, seething, in the back field.
Determined not to succumb to the inevitable, the 91-Test veteran hobbled around for the next four minutes, while French five-eighth Frederic Michalak sent a drop goal through the posts to level the scores. But he was fighting a losing battle and limped off in the fifth minute, understandably filthy with the injury gods.
The Wallabies did not miss a beat, with Moore's deputies, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Michael Hooper, stepping up to the plate with ease and the new halves pairing of Nic White and Bernard Foley growing in confidence with every score.
Australia pounced on their half-chances, secured their attacking rucks as if their lives depended on it and commenced the demolition with Folau's try in the 19th minute.
It was his first introduction to the French and they will never forget him. The dual international took a ball from workaholic prop James Slipper, pirouetted out of one tackle then shrugged off the next two defenders to ground the ball in style for his 11th Test try.
Foley converted to put Australia 10-3 in front and the floodgates opened. Winger Adam Ashley-Cooper was next, followed by Hooper in the 33rd minute and Matt Toomua just before half-time.
Michalak managed two more penalty goals but the damage was done. While the Wallabies took their half-time break on the pitch - as they did under McKenzie last season - France searched for answers.
They took their time coming out for the re-start and looked roundly beaten, winger Nick ''Honey Badger'' Cummins scoring in the 56th minute and replacement No.12 Kurtley Beale claiming his own five-pointer in the 68th minute.
France showed signs of life late in the second half, Morgan Parra scoring with eight minutes left, and a penalty try right on full-time clawed back a 50-9 blow-out to 50-23.
The Wallabies will rightly head to Melbourne with their tails up next week. It was the biggest points tally against France since 1990 and McKenzie's selection gambles were vindicated in spectacular fashion.
Having rewarded the Super Rugby form of White and Foley, the two inexperienced Test players gave him no reason at all to pull the rug from under them in the second Test.
The only quibble will be with their ordinary goal-kicking. Foley missed two shots at goal and White missed one attempt.