Wallabies a 'team for all seasons'
The Wallabies may have been held to their lowest winning score in 87 years, but Ewen McKenzie is pleased they found a different way to win.
The Wallabies may have been held to their lowest winning score in 87 years by France, but coach Ewen McKenzie is pleased his team found different ways to win.
Australia edged out Les Bleus 6-0 on the back of two penalies in a stilted try-less performance in Melbourne to claim the series with a Test to play coming on the back of their 50-23 rout the previous week.
The French, boosted by 10 team changes, were far more resolute in Melbourne than they were in Brisbane and took the Wallabies right to the 80th minute to see out a hard-fought victory.
While the Wallabies are enjoying their best winning run for nine years with six consecutive victories, Saturday's loss means France have yet to win in Australia for 24 years and have one last chance for victory in next weekend's final Test in Sydney.
Saturday's winning scoreline was Australia's lowest since they beat Ireland 5-3 in Dublin in 1927, but McKenzie said there were benefits to the try-less performance after posting seven tries against the French the previous week.
"Ideally you want a team that can cope with all circumstances, and the All Blacks have always done that," McKenzie told reporters.
"They find a way - you saw that against England last week (20-15) and they did it differently this week (28-27), but they still got there.
"And that's what I want us to be - a team for all occasions, to be a team for all seasons."
He added: "We're actually finding ways to win in varying circumstances. Once you know what winning looks like, you can take it anywhere."
While it was hardly crowd-pleasing rugby, McKenzie saw positives in the Wallabies' performance before a half-filled Etihad Stadium.
"Regardless of what gets written, we showed great character and grit and in the end we toughed out a game that was complicated tactically and won it," he said.
"Maybe in the past they are games that we wouldn't have won, so I was pleased that we are showing that week to week we can find ways to win."
The French, meanwhile, were ruing missed opportunities to get a rare win in Australia.
Les Bleus missed two first-half penalty kicks - fullback Brice Dulin from beyond halfway and scrumhalf Morgan Parra from 44 metres out - while flank Yannick Nyanga fumbled his own charge down with the tryline beckoning.
But on the back of their improved scrum, the Wallabies dominated possession and territory after half-time.
"As a pack we have to get the right respect from everyone and I think we're moving in the right direction to do that," tighthead prop Sekope Kepu said.
"But this week means nothing - we have to do it next week and again after that.
"To grind away a win like that it's one of those that's probably better for you (than last week's).
"It's a tougher battle and I feel it's more satisfying."
Rookie captain Michael Hooper, at 22 the fourth-youngest player to lead the Wallabies, said his team could find comfort in the ugly victory.
"First of all we retain the trophy, so that's a really good milestone for us," Hooper said.
"Yes, it wasn't like last week and you've got to be able to find ways to win and all the good teams are doing that, so it's nice to be in that space and moving forward we can find comfort that we got that win tonight in tough circumstances.
"We had opportunities to score, we had the ball over the try-line three times that we didn't end up getting points from.
"So we have to be patient and a better team through detail and things like that."