Australia has gone down to Samoa 21-14 in its second game in Paris after a bizarre chain of events saw a red card issued to young Liam McNamara.
The send-off resulted from the issuing of a second yellow card for a cynical foul when McNamara intentionally kicked the ball across the touch line from under a tackle contest.
The first had come in the opening minutes when a lifting tackle he made was deemed to be above the horizontal.
It took until just before the half-time siren for any score to be registered as a physical game saw referee Craig Joubert issue the two cards to Australia, then a yellow to Samoa as well as reviewing and then disallowing two Samoan try attempts.
James Stannard finally got the Aussies on the scoreboard for a 7-0 lead at the break.
Samoa immediately responded off the restart in the second half through Alamonda Motuga as he broke through the six man defence.
The islanders were very strong at the breakdown and consequently scored twice more from turnovers.
The Aussies fought hard in attack getting close to the try line more than once in the second half, but the task was always going to be difficult with a reduced lineup.
Alex Gibbon narrowed the margin with a late try but it was after the final siren had sounded.
Samoa sits undefeated on top of Pool D and coach Sir Gordon Tietjens is well pleased after his team took two big scalps on the first day in Paris.
The Aussies will have to battle Fiji in their final game if they are to progress to the Cup quarter finals following the Olympic champions’ earlier 54-0 victory over Russia.
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But the Aussies did not have everything their own way and collective breaths were being held as scores were all tied up going into the final minute of the game.
Vitaly Zhivatov put the first points of the game on the board for Russia as Australia were one man down with Nick Malouf off with a yellow card.
Just before the break, Liam McNamara scored Australia’s opening try with some great footwork and the score was all tied up on 7-7 at half-time.Russia came out strongly in the second half with Vladislav Sozonov going in for a second try.
But this was quickly answered by the Aussie captain James Stannard, leading by example, as he proved speed was not just for the young guns putting on the gas down the outside to get over the line.
With neither of the second half tries successfully converted the scoreboard was still locked up with less than a minute remaining in the match when Simon Kennewell showed great strength in pushing to the try line to give Australia the lead and seal the victory.
A win is a win but the Aussies will take a lot of lessons out of their first match in Paris having been challenged by the lesser fancied Russia team.
Australia will play Samoa in its second Pool D game which should be a cracker as the men in blue and white scored a huge two point victory over their Pacific neighbours and Olympic champions Fiji in a replay of last year’s Paris final.