The Wallabies overcame a 5th minute Red Card to winger Marika Koroibete to record a nail-biting 33-30 win over France at Suncorp Stadium.
In front of a vocal 34,164 crowd Noah Lolesio kicked a 78th minute penalty to break a 30-all dead-lock, and allow the Wallabies to retain the Trophes des Bicentenaire
The Wallabies got off to the worst possible start losing Filipo Daugunu to an arm/hand injury in the first 2 minutes. Worse was to come with Marika Koroibete being red-carded for a dangerous tackle on French captain Anthony Jelonch. In a decision to be debated for months if not years, Referee Ben O’Keefe ruled that there were no mitigating factors, and Marika Koroibete was off, not to return.
Jumping forward to post-match press conference, Wallabies Coach Dave Rennie, was very measured in his response, stating that he was part of the consultation process around the high-tackle framework & mitigation factors, and would be contesting the charge at the judiciary, based on the view that Jelonch did drop before the tackle, initial contact was not with the head and the French player milked the penalty by rolling around on the ground clutching his face, where there was clearly no contact with the face. Rennie also pointed out that the Southern Hemisphere nations all supported the 20-minute replacement rule after a red-card, while the change was blocked by Northern Hemisphere nations.
Meanwhile , while the crowd voiced there displeasure, the French capitalised, getting out to a 10-0 lead via a penalty and a try to half-back Baptise Couilloud, before Michael Hooper ran onto a Noah Lolesio pass and made 20-metres through a hole, before putting Tate McDermott over for a try.
Then when Noah Lolesio pounced with an intercept try, the Wallabies were leading 17-13, but not for long. From a off-side penalty right infront of the sticks, the French opted for a set-move tap-kick, with Cameron Woki putting his height to good use, reaching over the ruck to score. One more penalty kick to Lolesio and scores were locked at 20-all at half time.
France used their advantage on the wing to run in a sensational 90-metre try, before replacement front-rowers Angus Bell and Taniela Tupou combined for a try to Tupou.
The Wallabies looked to have scored another via Brandon Paenga-Amosa, before it was called back for a knock-on in an earlier ruck. France also had another long-range try disallowed for the same reason.
At the 75th minute mark, France kicked a penalty to even the score. Lolesio then kicked the penalty to put the Wallabies in front. The French had one last roll of the dice, but needing a win to regain the Trophe des Bicentenaire, turned down a long-range penalty kick, opting instead for a line-out. In the final play of the game, Darcy Swain, disrupted the maul, resulting in a Wallabies turn-over and the end of the game. Full-time: 33-30
Marika Koroibete‘s Red Card at the 5 minute mark had the potential to be the major turning point, coming at the worst possible time, in the 5th minute mark, after Filipo Daugunu had already left the field injured. But, at 10-0 down and in danger of a blow-out, Michael Hooper’s break for Tate McDermott’s try righted the ship
Noah Lolesio held his nerve to get the Wallabies home, kicking 7 from 8, as well as picking up an intercept try. But Michael Hooper was outstanding, made a break leading to Tate McDermott’s try, and almost put Tate in for his second later. Several turnovers, and made the right decisions. Although couldn’t talk Ben O’Keefe out of a Red Card.
Len Ikitau had an impressive starting debut, and along with other youngsters Noah Lolesio and Hunter Paisami could be a long term 10-12-13 combination. Lachlan Swinton and Rob Valetini both had impacts at blind-side flanker, and hard to seperate. Isi Naisarani had a solid work-rate at #8, and was a good line-out option. Darcy Swain put in a full 80 minutes, and spoiled the final French maul, to end the game
Score & Scorers
Tries: Tate McDermott, Noah Lolesio, Taniela Tupou
Conversions: Noah Lolesio 3
Penalties: Noah Lolesio 4
Tries: Baptise Couilloud, Cameron Woki, Pierre-Louis Barassi
Conversions: Melvyn Jaminet 3
Penalties: Melvyn Jaminet 3
Cards & citings
Marika Koroibete Red Card (5th Minute)