France has defeated Papua New Guinea 9-8 in a close match that PNG will feel they should have won.
The French opened the scoring after getting good field position off the back of a penalty. The field position allowed them to catch PNG off guard a little as they scored the first try of the match. The 6-0 lead was short lived however as PNG hit back with a scrappy try in the corner that went unconverted.
Scrappy was the best way to describe the entire first half. The conditions played their part, the wind effected the passing and kicking games of both teams throughout the game. Both sides struggled to settle though and that was the biggest factor.
In the second half PNG came out played great football. An early try saw them dominating the French and edging to an 8-6 lead. Repeated sets on the French line looked set to wrap the game up. However PNG simply could not crack the French line and it would cost them dearly.
France lifted and eventually earned themselves a shot at a penalty which they kicked to level the score at 8-all. They would follow that up with a sneaky shot at field goal that went through the sticks giving them a 9-8 lead. There was still plenty of time left in the match though with both sides starting to look tired.
The key moment in the match came in the dying seconds when a PNG kick was knocked on by France and then a player from an offside position picked the ball up. It gave PNG a shot at a penalty goal right in front and about 25 meters out. With France holding into a 9-8 lead, this kick was going to decide the game.
David Mead had responsibility of kicking the goal. The wind was blowing into his face but it was a sitter. He missed it….
France celebrated as soon as Mead missed the kick. They played safe football and held out for a tough win.
France won the game on the back of their defence. The defensive stand in the second half was the big moment in the game. Papua New Guinea will see this as a game they should have won. It’s a huge blow to their hopes of playing in the finals of the tournament.
One note from the match, Paul Aiton will find himself in a bit of trouble after a high tackle in the second half.
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