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Australia beats France 39-13 in 3rd test to sweep series 3-0

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SYDNEY - Australia completed its first 3-0 series sweep over France with a 39-13 victory in the third test on Saturday in a clear statement of attacking intent ahead of the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championships.

Israel Folau's two tries and a sparkling debut by giant lock Will Skelton highlighted a dominant display by the Wallabies at Sydney Football Stadium.

The 140 kilogram (308 pound) Skelton scored a try and provided another for Folau in an impressive first match in front of a home town crowd of 43,188.

"I think he's got a fairly unique approach to the game and that's something we employed today," said coach Ewen McKenzie. "He had a significant influence in a game against a tier one country in his first game."

Bernard Foley continued his impressive goal-kicking with 14 points as the Wallabies posted a seventh-straight test win; a feat they last achieved in the 1999-2000 season.

"I was pretty happy with the intent across the game, I don't think we confused anyone with what we were trying to do," said McKenize. "We dominated possession, territory...we just didn't make the most of every opportunity."

"To get three wins in a row, that is the best possible thing we can do in terms of taking confidence forward."

Guilhem Guirado scored a consolation try for France, which has not won in Australia in its past 11 tests dating back 24 years.

It was the second heavy defeat for the tourists in the series, after a 50-23 mauling in Brisbane in the first test, before an improved defensive performance in the 6-0 win by the Wallabies in the second match in Melbourne.

"Today Australia won all the contact areas. They go forward all the time, they had a big tempo to the game and we missed so many tackles," said France coach Philippe Saint-Andre. "There was more activity, more urgency, more skill in the Australian team than in our team."

"Congratulations to them. It was the end of a long season for our players and when we play our game against the Wallabies in Paris in November they will see a completely different French team."

The Wallabies assumed the ascendancy early Saturday with Foley opening the scoring with a penalty in the third minute after France infringed at the breakdown.

France scrumhalf Maxime Machenaud missed an opportunity to bring the tourists level almost immediately, hitting the post with his penalty attempt.

Skelton extended the Wallabies lead in the 8th minute, capping off a long spell of possession deep in French territory, by barging over from five meters, despite the attempted tackle by flanker Pulgence Ouedraogo. Foley added the extras for a 10-0 lead.

"It was his first cap but he played very well. I think he is going to stay in the Wallabies team for a long time," said France captain Thierry Dusautoir.

France fullback Brice Dulin cut the deficit shortly after with a long range penalty goal, but Australia resumed its 10-point advantage with another Foley penalty after captain Michael Hooper forced Dulin into an error from the kickoff.

Prop Rabah Silimani received a yellow card in the 26th minute for tackling winger Adam Ashley Cooper without the ball and the Wallabies quickly took advantage of the extra man with Toomua playing in Folau to dive over in the corner.

Foley expertly guided through the conversion from the touchline for a 20-3 lead.

France temporarily stopped the flow with a Machenaud penalty in the 35th minute and survived several Australia raids at the end of the half to trail 20-6 at the break.

The second half began as the first ended, with Australia probing the French defensive line and it took only two minutes for Skelton to offload a clever short pass to Folau to send the fullback through untouched to score under the posts for his 13th test try in only 18 matches.

In the 61st minute Foley made a diving inside pass to replacement Kurtley Beale who drew Dulin before sending Hooper clear to score under the posts. Foley's conversion gave Australia a 34-6 lead.

France showed glimpses of its renowned attacking flair, but it was raw strength and power that led to its first try with hooker Guilhem Guirado scoring from a rolling maul in the 65th minute.

Machenaud's conversion reduced the arrears to 31-13.

In the 74th minute, replacement scrumhalf Nick Phipps profited from some poor defending taking a quick tap from a penalty to sneak over from close range to complete the rout and put Australia in a confident mood ahead of the Rugby Championship.

"Seven wins in a row isn't something I've been a part of in Super (Rugby) or in the Test team in my career so far," said Hooper. "It's a really nice place to be in as a group and in such short turnarounds it's a really positive thing to have."

___

Scores:

Australia 39 (Israel Folau 2, Will Skelton, Michael Hooper, Nick Phipps tries; Bernard Foley 4 conversions, 2 penalties), France 13 (Guilhem Guirado try; Maxime Machenaud conversion, penalty; Brice Dulin penalty). HT: 20-6.

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