Paris - Argentina produced a tactical masterclass to beat France 18-13 at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday.
The Pumas scored four drop goals and dominated the majority of a turgid contest to end their November tour on a high.
came within inches of snatching a potentially match-winning try deep
into added time, but South African-born fullback Scott Spedding was
held up over the line.
Had they scored that, and converted it to
snatch an unlikely victory, it would have been hard on an enterprising
Argentina that dominated in almost every aspect of the game and aligned
an almost impenetrable light-blue and white wall in front of France's
It was their first win in France since the 2007 World Cup, and richly deserved.
very happy, we played a spectacular match. We're a young team that
gives everything and we gave everything we had," said Pumas fullback
"It's a great pleasure, we played badly against Scotland but now we have to be happy with this win."
hosts may have come into the clash brimming with confidence following
wins over Fiji (40-15) and Australia (29-26) but they were given a
tactical lesson in the first half.
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre said his side lost the match in the first half hour, at the end of which they trailed 15-0.
weren't surprised by Argentina's performance, during the week we told
the players that they (Argentina) have the level of a southern
hemisphere side," he said.
"The only thing was that we were
totally absent in the first half hour. We were dominated at the
breakdown and in terms of dynamism."
Argentina fly-half Nicolas
Sanchez and inside centre Juan Martin Hernandez dominated with precise
kicking, while the tourists rumbled well with their forwards and broke
quickly in the backs.
They needed only a minute to force the first
penalty as France were penalised for holding on, and Sanchez kicked the
first three points.
Right wing Juan Imhoff, who plays for
Racing-Metro in Paris, almost scored a try on five minutes as Argentina
exploited the space left by an injury to France right wing Yoann Huget,
who was receiving on-field treatment, but Spedding got across to knock
the Puma into touch just before he grounded the ball.
fly-half Camille Lopez missed a penalty attempt on 12 minutes and five
minutes later, Sanchez landed a long-range drop goal to stretch their
lead to 6-0.
Argentina lost outside centre Marcelo Bosch and No 8 Leonardo Senatore to injury but they continued to control proceedings.
Lopez hit the post with his second penalty attempt before Sanchez landed his third kick after a long range Imhoff counter.
then started to humiliate France with Hernandez and Sanchez in the
space of two minutes each knocking over a drop goal to open up a 15-0
lead - and this from a team soundly beaten 41-31 by Scotland two weeks
Every time Argentina got in range of the French line, they were coming away with three points.
France were desperate and twice passed up penalty opportunities in preference of kicking to the corner.
they wasted the first when captain Thierry Dusautoir knocked-on, while
the second resulted in another penalty from a more kickable position,
which Lopez opted to take and finally, on 37 minutes, he got France on
But the hosts should have come away with a try on
the stroke of half-time, only for Huget to greedily hold on following a
mazy run instead of popping the ball to his support, who surely would
It was more of the same at the start of the second
period as, although Sanchez missed a penalty, he knocked over his side's
fourth drop goal of the night on 46 minutes.
on South African-born scrum-half Rory Kockott, who missed a penalty from
halfway but generally sped up the home side's play.
rewarded on 57 minutes after a long passage of possession as Wesley
Fofana twisted over the line to score the only try of the game.
converted from wide right but Kockott took over kicking duties on 64
minutes to land a penalty that brought the score back to 18-13.
The tide was turning but France failed to turn a late spell of pressure into a winning score.
Penalties: Nicolas Sanchez (2)
Drop goals: Sanchez (3), Hernandez
Try: Wesley Fofana
Conversions: Camille Lopez
Penalties: Lopez (2)