Damian Penaud celebrates (Getty)
France head coach Fabien Galthie said winger Damian Penaud’s match-winning try was “beautiful” as his side beat Australia 30-29 in the Autumn Nations Series on Saturday.
In a tight affair at the Stade de France, less than 10 months away from the Rugby World Cup, Penaud crossed in the 76th minute to secure Les Bleus’ record 11th straight Test win.
“It’s a beautiful try because we went looking for it,” Galthie told France Televisions.
“The scenario of the match was difficult but at this level nowadays you have to be able to respond to everything.
“The players responded really well, it’s magnificent,” he added.
Galthie was forced into a late change with replacement lock Killian Geraci ruled out due to a knee issue and winger Matthis Lebel taking his place on the bench.
Galthie’s Australia counterpart Dave Rennie made four changes from last weekend’s one-point win over Scotland giving full-back Jock Campbell his first Test start.
As the smoke from the pre-match fireworks dispersed, the Wallabies’ veteran fly-half Bernard Foley opened the scoring with a penalty after four minutes before Thomas Ramos kicked two to put France ahead 6-3 after 10 minutes.
Foley equalised before France’s first foray into the Australia 22m as flanker Charles Ollivon, who lost the France captaincy for this series, was denied his 10th Test try for double movement after 15 minutes.
Less than three minutes later the Stade de France crowd was stunned as the Wallabies went from their own 5m line to score as centre Lalakai Foketi crossed in superb fashion.
Foley kicked the conversion before missing the chance to extend the lead with a simple penalty after 25 minutes.
Ramos cut the deficit to a point with two shots at goal before hooker Julian Marchand claimed the lead for the Six Nations Grand Slam champions with a pick and go after a Gael Fickou kick.
Ramos was successful with the extras as Les Bleus led 19-13 at the break.
Two minutes after the interval, 33-year-old Foley, on his 75th Test appearance, closed it to 19-16 with a penalty after France were blown for offside in open play.
Ramos, however, re-established a six-point lead before missing for the first time in the evening with a long-range 50m effort.
Immediately afterwards, the home crowd fell silent as three-quarter Campbell celebrated his maiden international start by sliding over to score for Australia.
Foley added the touchline conversion and Rennie’s side led 23-22 with a little over 20 minutes to go.
The playmaker and Ramos traded penalties to make it 26-25 highlighting why Galthie said during the week that his side were preparing for the most difficult final quarter of a game of his three-year tenure.
With five minutes to go Foley’s replacement Reece Hodge repaid Rennie’s faith by kicking a penalty to make it 29-25 but the final word went to Penaud.
He caught substitute Jalibert’s looping pass before beating two would-be tacklers for his 10th Test try.
Ramos missed the difficult conversion but Galthie’s men held on to break the French record for most consecutive wins which had stood since the 1930s.
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