Buenos Aires - Captain Felipe Contepomi scored a try and kicked another eight points as Argentina narrowly beat the French Barbarians 23-19 in their first World Cup warm-up on Saturday.
Argentina, with a sprinkling of 2007 World Cup veterans, fielded a large number of fringe players looking to win places in the Pumas squad for this year's tournament in New Zealand.
The Pumas were patchy and at times slow in the tackle against a French side with speed in the backs and muscle up front -- a combination which made for a good workout for the host team.
The players who stood out for Argentina were several who only recently played for the third-tier Pampas XV that won the Vodacom Cup in South Africa.
Prop Agustin Creevy and number eight Leonardo Senatore had good games, along with 2007 veteran Juan Manuel Leguizamon at openside flanker looking to regain his best form after a poor season following a long injury layoff.
The Barbarians scored three exciting tries through centres Guillaume Bousses and Adrien Plante and South African flanker Gerhard Vosloo to keep Argentina permanently on their toes.
After the teams changed level at 12-12, Contepomi kept the Pumas ahead from his first penalty close to the hour.
The flyhalf raced through under the posts for a try minutes later at the end of a good attack on the left but had his conversion charged down.
Vosloo's try and former France flyhalf Lionel Beauxis's second conversion reduced the deficit to one point before Contepomi's second penalty settled the issue.
The Pumas face the Barbarians again in the northern city of Resistencia next weekend with an almost entirely different line-up.