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England series has steeled us: Wallabies

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/11/2016 Joe Barton

Sean McMahon says the fighting spirit displayed in Australia's past two heart-stopping victories was forged in their humiliating 3-0 series loss at the hands of England this year.

The Wallabies kept their unbeaten Spring Tour record intact on Saturday night with a gutsy 25-23 win over France - one week after breaking Scottish hearts with a one-point victory.

They were far from perfect in either Test, but prevailed on the back of guts and grit, including defending a man down at the back end of the game against Scotland.

At Stade de France on Saturday there were desperate cover tackles from winger Sefa Naivalu - who put his hand up for a regular starting spot with an inspired display - and the effort shown by replacement half Nick Phipps to force a missed field goal attempt from France.

To McMahon, who returned to the starting lineup for the first time since suffering an ankle injury against the Springboks last month, those are the plays that define this team's spirit.

"People might not recognise those opportunities watching from the telly," he said.

"But those are the things as a team when you look back on a game and you might say 'oh, someone's made that cover tackle', but to us that's better than a try.

"That's saving a try or stopping a phase so to us that's huge and that's what we're trying to buy into and create an identity around, just not giving up."

The Wallabies believe that sort of desperation has been a long time coming - and was built during their horror start to the year in which they lost three matches to England and two to the All Blacks.

"As a team when you're in a losing locker room, you all sit down and you start thinking about how much it hurts," McMahon said.

"I think we've just built throughout the year and said 'that's it, it's time for us to step up'."

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