The Wallaby XV has gone down to the French Barbarians 19-11, after a gripping contest on Thursday night at the Stade Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux.
Penalties undid the Australian side, after scoring the first try in just the fourth minute of the game, as the French side clawed its way back from an early 8-0 deficit.
Former Wallabies skipper Ben Mowen, now playing at Montpellier, scored that, converting some early attacking pressure after a nice offload from Marika Koroibete.
Koroibete looked dangerous in attack but with the Wallaby XV in defence mode for much of the night, the flyer didn’t have much opportunity to shine with the ball in hand.
The French Barbarians put pressure on the Australians in attack but weren’t able to penetrate the defence, with strong cover defence from the Wallaby XV.
An early injury blow to Jono Lance forced a reshuffle, after rising star Izaia Perese was already ruled out of the clash with injury.
Lance was clutching his left arm as he came off the field just 10 minutes in, replaced by Andrew Kellaway, with Kyle Godwin and Mark Gerrard sharing the playmaking duties.
Wallaby XV hooker Nathan Charles was handed a yellow card for a shot on scrumhalf Yann Lesgourgues in the first half.
French Barbarians flyhalf Romain Lonca added a penalty as the first half ticked down, narrowing the margin to just five points, with the momentum going the Barbarians’ way.
In a physical contest, neither side shied away from contact as the Wallaby XV were forced into holding out the French side.
A Jean Baptiste Poux penalty in the 54th minute narrowed the margin to just two points, putting all the pressure on the Wallaby XV.
Two more Dumora penalty kicks put the Barbarians in front in the dying stages, before a Godwin three-pointer made it a one-point game.
A late kick-fest gave the French Barbarians a final chance to attack and they made the most of it, clinching the win in front of 30,028.
Wallaby XV coach Scott Wisemantel said he was proud of his side, after the tight loss.
"I thought they all had a red hot crack but I’ve got to give special mention to Will Skelton, he was outstanding, Sam Carter really ripped in, I thought Ben Mowen was excellent and in the back field I thought [fullback Luke] Morahan - he really covered some territory," he said.
"I thought those guys were outstanding but I think they all had a real dig and we should be proud of them. - Scott Wisemantel
All but one of the Wallaby XV coaches is based outside of Australia and Wisemantel, assistant at Montpellier, said it was 'refreshing' to be back in a national setup.
"It was refreshing. It’s really nice - all the coaches, we actually said how refreshing the last four days has been being surrounded by Australians again, real ambition to play, it’s been great. It’s a privilege."
Click here for the full match replay of the Wallaby XV v French Barbarians.
French Barbarians 19
Tries: Camille Gerondeau
Cons: Jean-Baptiste Poux 1
Pens: Jean-Baptiste Poux 3, Lonca 1
Wallaby XV 11
Tries: Ben Mowen
Pens: Nick Frisby 1, Kyle Godwin 1