The match marked the first time that the reigning champions have met the host nation in a FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. And the Papeete crowd were soon living through every challenge and shot on goal.
Tahiti were unfortunately shorn of two key players due to suspension in Heimanu Taiarui and Raimana Li Fung Kuee.
An intense but somewhat scrappy first third remained largely without goalscoring incident until Dmitrii Shishin dispossessed Teva Zaveroni with three minutes remaining, only for the Tahiti defender to foul his opponent with the Russian scoring his eighth of the tournament from the resultant free-kick.
Zaveroni nearly made immediate amends only to direct his spectacular overhead kick wide.
The mood changed instantly after the break with Patrick Tepa hitting home a stunning strike from near the sideline two seconds into the middle period.
Any luck Tahiti may have enjoyed soon dissipated as Tepa was sent off for diving, controversially in the mind of the baying crowd.
Crucially Tahiti survived their allotted two minutes playing a man short.
Heiarii Tavanae then hit the post and after the break, and Marama Amau did likewise as the home side tried to turn up the heat on the world champs.
Naea Bennet then deflected in goalkeeper Jonathan Torohia’s long-range effort and Tahiti were ahead for the first time with ten minutes remaining.
Shishin ended the match as a contest with a contender for goal of the tournament volleying over Torohia’s head from his own half.