By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) -Melvyn Jaminet won personal redemption and sealed a series-levelling 28-26 victory with a laser-sharp boot as France savoured their first away win over Australia in more than 30 years on Tuesday.
The 22-year-old fullback slotted seven penalties, including the 78th-minute winner, in a 23-point game as France turned the tables on the Wallabies at the Rectangular Stadium after suffering a last-gasp 23-21 defeat in Brisbane last week.
Jaminet had a big hand in France's loss in the opener at Lang Park, having failed to boot the ball to touch from a lineout after the siren, allowing Australia to regain possession and Noah Lolesio to boot the winning penalty for the home side.
But he rose to the occasion when France won a late scrum penalty, claiming the match with a nerveless kick to square the three-test series before the decider in Brisbane on Saturday.
France coach Fabien Galthie took a lot of flak for sticking with Jaminet after the Brisbane clanger but praised the young fullback's courage for his flawless night off the tee in Melbourne.
"After what happened last week in the last minute, many people said that it was his fault and his head should fall," Galthie.
"But I knew that he would be definitely more than present at this game tonight. He did what he had to do."
It was France's first win Down Under since upsetting the Bob Dwyer-coached Wallabies 28-19 at Sydney Football Stadium in 1990 and came despite a slew of their first-choice players forced to miss the tour due to the Top 14 final.
Australia scored two tries to France's one and led by a point with three minutes on the clock after a late penalty by flyhalf Lolesio.
But most of the COVID-19-capped crowd of 20,114 left in dismay after the Wallabies missed a string of scoring chances and repeatedly coughed up the ball at the breakdown.
"We certainly created a lot of opportunities, didn't we?" Australia coach Dave Rennie told reporters.
"I thought we had stolen it late but not to be... They were really good over the ball."
Australia had a first-half try from Jake Gordon and another from captain Michael Hooper in the 71st minute but others went begging.
A thrilling try from Fijian Marika Koroibete in the opening 10 minutes was cancelled on review after fellow winger Tom Wright was found to have knocked on when trying to mop up a clearing French kick in the leadup.
France had far less of the ball but were more clinical.
Jaminet scored in the first minute with a 48-metre penalty after a ruck turnover and another turnover allowed winger Penaud to cross for the first try in the 22nd minute.
Australia's perseverance finally paid off after bashing away at the try-line when prop Taniela Tupou flung a neat pass wide to Gordon who bounded over from two metres out in the 38th minute.
Having overhauled France from a 15-0 deficit in Brisbane, the Wallabies appeared set to do it again when Hooper crossed after a Banks' linebreak and Lolesio nosed Australia in front with a penalty.
But Jaminet's boot took the game away to leave the French celebrating a rare win on Australian soil on the night before Bastille Day.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Alex Richardson and Christian Radnedge)