France ended a five-match losing streak by beating Argentina 28-13 in Lille on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
Both teams came into the game desperate for a victory but it was the home side who had the better of the game and ended a miserable run of results since their last win against England in the Six Nations.
Much of the credit must go to the French forwards, who put the Pumas under massive pressure at the scrum and helped with retention of the ball, while the centre pair of Gael Fickou and Mathieu Bastareaud put in a massive effort on attack and defence.
After a bright start, where they opened the scoring through a breakaway try from Ramiro Moyano, the Argentinians faded as the first half went on.
France hit back through Baptiste Serin, who traded penalties with Nicolas Sanchez.
The hosts eventually got the breakthrough when, after a linebreak from Yoann Huget, the overlap was created and some good hands from replacement fullback Benjamin Fall saw Teddy Thomas sprint into the corner untouched.
Serin slotted another scrum penalty to give France the lead for the first time in the match, and see them go into the break 11-10 ahead.
Sanchez kicked his second penalty to allow Argentina to regain the lead at the start of the second half, but a break from Gael Fickou, who brilliantly stepped past a couple of tacklers before throwing a long pass to Thomas, saw the wing cross for his brace.
Argentina saw far more of the ball in the second half, but still struggled to release their deadly back three and often resorted to up-and-unders, which were well claimed by Fall.
Serin kicked his third penalty to give his side a two-score cushion. The game was sealed minutes later when a horrid handling error from Argentina metres from their own line gifted France captain Guilhem Guirado a freebie try.
France – Tries: Teddy Thomas (2), Guilhem Guirado. Conversions: Baptiste Serin (2). Penalty: Serin (3).
Argentina – Try: Ramiro Moyano. Conversion: Nicolas Sanchez. Penalties: Sanchez (2).
France – 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Gaël Fickou, 12 Mathieu Bastareaud, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Arthur Iturria, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 3 Cedate Gomes Sa, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Jefferson Poirot.
Subs: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Mathieu Babillot, 21 Antoine Dupont, 22 Anthony Belleau, 23 Benjamin Fall.
Argentina – 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Guido Petti, 6 Pablo Matera (c), 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Augustin Creevy, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta.
Subs: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Rodrigo Bruni, 21 Tomas Lezana, 22 Tomas Cubelli, 23 Matias Moroni.
Photo: Frederic Stevens/Getty Images