France deny Wallabies in epic encounter

The daring but dejected Wallabies offered no regrets after almost pulling off the upset of the year in an epic 30-29 loss to France in Paris.

The 2023 Rugby World Cup hosts and favourites had to pull out all stops to deny the Wallabies a famous victory, snatching a record 11th straight Test win with a try to winger Damien Penaud five minutes from fulltime.

The Wallabies produced a 95-metre contender for try of the year but ultimately paid the price once more for their ill-discipline and lack of attention to detail at Stade de France.

Sharp-shooting fullback Thomas Ramos punished the Wallabies for their every infringement, nailing six penalty goals and a conversion for a telling 20-point haul.

"It's a game of inches, isn't it," rued Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.

"We got away with a tight one last week and we finished second tonight. It is what it is."

But it could have been so different.

Neither Penaud's five-pointer or France's other try, a coach killer to hooker Julien Marchand after the halftime siren, should have been scored.

Penaud effortlessly stood up Tom Wright, then palmed off debutant fullback Jock Campbell for the match-winner, while Marchand burrowed over after Bernard Foley pushed an unnecessary pass near halfway, allowing France to scramble for an unlikely 19-13 halftime lead.

"Pretty shattered, if I'm honest. To lose in the fashion that we did, pretty shattered," Campbell said.

Even French captain Antoine Dupont expressed relief at his side's Houdini act.

"We had trouble the whole game. But we got the win and it's important to win in different ways," Dupont said.

France's 11-game winning run eclipsed Les Bleus' record from the 1930s. The streak includes a first Six Nations Grand Slam in 12 years and a 2-0 series win in Japan in July.

While gallant in defeat, former Wallabies veteran Drew Mitchell says close enough isn't good enough as Rennie's men again fell short of winning back-to-back Test matches for the first time in 16 months.

"Let's not celebrate getting close, they should have won that game," Mitchell said during Stan Sport commentary.

"They should have lost last week. We see improvement in this Wallabies team but the same things are repeating themselves over and over.

"We should be celebrating a win here. It's hard, we get ourselves into these positions and we find a way to lose a game."

But heartened skipper James Slipper was seeing the glass half full after the Wallabies pack took the fight to France and the Australian backline dazzled.

The highlight was undoubtedly Lalakai Foketi's 18th-minute try.

A tap-back from Foley five metres from his own line to Len Ikitau set the magical movement in motion.

The ball spread left from Ikatau, to Campbell and Jed Holloway all the way to Wright, with the winger burning the French defence before firing a lovely inside pass to Foketi to finish off.

"I was extremely proud with how we performed tonight," Slipper said.

"As a front-row prop, it's always great to see your backline string a few passes together and run the whole field and score a try.

"We wanted to play with no fear tonight and that was a great example of that."

Foketi, though, didn't last much longer, the centre succumbing to an ankle injury that Rennie declared "significant" and potentially tour-ending.

"He'll get a scan tomorrow," Rennie said.

"But it doesn't look very positive."