SINGAPORE - After more than 70 minutes of near-perfect rugby, one moment of madness cost Singapore victory in their Asian Tri-Nations opener against a Hong Kong selection side on Sunday.
Up by four points with five minutes to go at the Yio Chu Kang Stadium, the Reds' outside-centre Blandon Tan took the law into his own hands, slapping his opponent in an off-the-ball scuffle. The 23-year-old was sent off, and it proved a crucial turning point, sparking a late charge from the visitors.
They went on to bag two late tries for a flattering 35-25 win.
What would have been the Reds' biggest victory in recent times turned instead into one of their most painful defeats.
"The red card definitely had a big impact but we should have managed it better," said dejected Singapore captain Daniel Marc Chow.
"We lacked maturity in the final few minutes - everyone knows what they did wrong so there's some self-reflection to do in the next few days."
Tan, described by his team-mates as a quiet and respectful character, left the stadium soon after the final whistle.
Singapore coach Inoke Afeaki felt the dismissal - which created a gaping hole in the side's tiring defence - was harsh.