Rugby League World Cup: Richard Agar relieved, mixed emotions for Adrian Lam
Last Updated: 27/10/13 7:20pm
Richard Agar: Relieved France opened their World Cup campaign with a victory
Richard Agar was a relieved man after France edged past Papua New Guinea while counterpart Adrian Lam had mixed emotions following their 9-8 defeat.
William Barthau's drop-goal separated the sides at Hull KR's New Craven Park, but it was PNG lack of a recognised goal-kicker that ultimately proved costly.
The Kumuls had a last-minute penalty in which they could have opened Pool B with a victory, but David Mead missed the chance to add the crucial two points.
"If I'm honest, I wouldn't have had many complaints had we lost," said Agar, when asked what he was thinking when Mead lined up a 79th-minute penalty.
"There are tears in the eyes of some of the officials because I forgot (as Wakefield coach on a full-time basis) that France haven't won too many Test matches lately."
"I thought we both played better into the wind and we actually played a good game tactically in the first half.
"We handled the conditions well and we worked really hard, but the way we controlled the game in the latter stages meant we had no chance to build any pressure."
Regardless of how it was achieved, the victory clearly meant a lot to the French side who vigorously sang their winner's song next to the media room after the game.
"There are tears in the eyes of some of the officials because I forgot (as Wakefield coach on a full-time basis) that France haven't won too many Test matches lately," Agar added.
"As a coach some of that was heart-attack stuff and to work so hard and think with a minute to go we're going to lose... The players are very pumped."
Papua New Guinea coach Adrian Lam was quick to absolve Mead of blame.
"If we kick the goal it's a great night, so now we have to pick ourselves back up off the ground. We couldn't convert our opportunities."
The full-back failed to improve Nene MacDonald and Josiah Abavu's respective tries, before his costly penalty miss after France had been caught offside.
The Kumuls do not have a regular goalkicker in their ranks so Gold Coast man Mead has assumed the responsibility.
"I'm both proud and disappointed," Lam said. "If we kick the goal it's a great night, so now we have to pick ourselves back up off the ground. We couldn't convert our opportunities.
"David is devastated. He's a great young man and we spoke with him about how he's not to blame. He is a big part of our side. He's not a week in, week out goal-kicker and we don't have one. That's the problem.
"He's blaming himself but there are a couple of other things we could have done better."
The Kumuls will now be up against it in terms of qualifying out of Group B and will now target a win over Samoa when they return to Hull a week on Monday.
"We're in a tough group but there is still an opportunity there and things may still swing our way," former Wigan half-back Lam added.
"We have to play Samoa and win and the team spirit is as good as I have ever seen. We are a young side and I remain excited about that."