Noah Lolesio’s late penalty saw Australia snatch a dramatic last-gasp 23-21 win over France as a young and ill-disciplined visiting side blew an early 15-0 lead.
France needed only to kick into touch at the death but lost their composure under pressure and allowed Tate McDermott to swoop on the ball and put the game on to Lolesio’s boot.
It was a second consecutive match in which France led with the ball in their hands after 80 minutes but ended up on the losing side following their dramatic 27-23 Six Nations loss to Scotland in March.
Australia had looked rusty in the early stages of their first international of 2021, allowing a second-string French side to race into a 15-0 lead with two tries from Gabin Villiere inside the opening 20 minutes.
Having dug themselves a considerable hole, Australia finally began to grow into the game, and some strong pressure finally paid off when Brandon Paenga-Amosa crossed to get them on the board with 35 minutes gone.
They cut the gap further four minutes into the second half as France gifted Australia another penalty, with Lolesio taking advantage to make it 15-10, but Louis Carbonel quickly replied for France.
Australia began to pile on the pressure again and had a chance from a line-out when Hunter Paisami tried to chip through for Tom Wright, but the bounce went against him and France escaped.
The two teams traded penalties around the hour mark, Lolesio cutting the deficit before France substitute Melvyn Jaminet responded with a huge 45-metre effort from the left touchline to make it an eight-point contest once again.
But this young French side – missing several key players with the Top 14 final between Toulouse and La Rochelle only last week – continued to concede too many penalties, and the next one handed a critical advantage to Australia who capitalised when Michael Hooper crossed with nine minutes to go.
It appeared Australia had blown their chance when Lolesio missed a drop goal in the 77th minute, but he would make no such mistake when the opportunity came his way again moments later.