Damian Penaud. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
- France thumped Australia 41-17 in a Rugby World Cup warm-up match in Paris on Sunday.
- Winger Damian Penaud bagged a brace of tries.
- The hosts never appeared to be bothered by the hapless Wallabies.
- For more sports news, go to the News24 Sport front page.
Winger Damian Penaud scored twice as Rugby World Cup hosts France eased past Australia 41-17 in Paris on Sunday in both sides’ final warm-up game before the tournament.
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Penaud crossed within the space of 20 minutes during the second half for Les Bleus, who were never really threatened by the Wallabies.
France open the World Cup by welcoming three-time winners New Zealand to the Stade de France on 8 September, a day before Australia face Georgia at the same venue.
Matthieu Jalibert started at flyhalf for the home side in a line-up which is also expected to face the All Blacks early next month.
Lock Will Skelton captained the Wallabies for the first time as they looked for their maiden victory in four games under Eddie Jones.
After two minutes, Australia flyhalf Carter Gordon missed a penalty from 45m in overcast conditions in northern Paris.
Things worsened for the Melbourne Rebels playmaker on just his fifth Test appearance as Les Bleus centre Jonathan Danty crashed through him to open the scoring after a flat Antoine Dupont pass.
France fullback Thomas Ramos slotted the conversion to make it 7-0 before the visitors then responded.
Gordon helped set-up winger Mark Nawaqanitawase in the corner but 22-year-old flyhalf missed the conversion.
By the interval, Ramos had pushed his side’s advantage to 16-5 with three penalties as Gordon failed with another attempt.
Despite the lead, France looked sluggish compared to a majority of their performances since Fabien Galthie took over as head coach in December 2019.
Galthie reacted by changing his front five after 48 minutes and was rewarded shortly after as replacement lock Cameron Woki stole a dangerous Wallabies lineout.
Australia winger Suliasi Vunivalu was then sent to the sin bin and Ramos made it 19-5 with 27 minutes to play.
France’s tails were up as captain Dupont underlined his brilliance with his second assist of the game, a delicate cross kick, to set up Penaud after Jalibert had tested the Australia defence.
Ramos slotted the extras and with the score at 26-5 the Stade de France crowd burst into life before Dupont left the field after an hour, the hosts protecting him less than two weeks out from meeting with the All Blacks.
There was short-lived hope for Jones’ side through flanker Fraser McReight’s 63rd-minute try before Gabin Villiere crossed for the hosts, after another lovely cross kick, this time by Jalibert, looking comfortable as the man in France’s No. 10 shirt.
Penaud kept his best effort for six minutes before time with a sublime solo try starting from the halfway line, almost as good as his match-winning touchdown against the same opponents in November.
Jones’ men finished on a positive note as winger Vunivalu, standing in for the rested Marika Koroibete, dotted down with three minutes left.