Pumas punish France


Argentina ... 28 France ... 27 Argentina stunned the rugby world with a 28-27 win over Six Nations champions France on Saturday in a one-off Test match in which the hosts blitzed Les Bleus with three second-half tries.

Argentina drew first blood in the 13th minute with a Felipe Contepomi penalty, and again five minutes later. The tourists pulled level with two Gerald Merceron penalties in the final 10 minutes of the half in a match lacking in shape.

But the home side quickly snatched the lead in the second half with a Gonzalo Quesada drop-goal from 40 metres out, after he had replaced skipper Lisandro Arbizu at half-time.

The French struck back with an Nicolas Brusque try after a darting break by outside centre Tony Marsh opened up a huge hole in the Argentine defence. Los Pumas, 13-9 down, then pinned the French back in their own 22 and Federico Mendez powered over the line.

Then came the turn of right wing Gonzalo Camardon who raced round the French three-quarters, leaving his opposite man for dead, and stunning the French in a solo effort.

Having missed the conversion, Contepomi then intercepted a sloppy French pass in midfield and glided over the tourists' try line, taking the score to 26-13.

Winger Nicolas Jeanjean struck back for France with five minutes to go, taking the score to 28-20. The final try came with two minutes left in the clash with Marsh crossing the line. Merceron buckled under the pressure as he failed with a last-minute penalty.

ARGENTINA: I Corleto; G Camardon, J Orengo, L Arbizu (capt), D Albanese; F Contepomi, A Pichot; M Reggiardo, F Mendez, O Hasan, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, R Alvarez, S Phelan, R Martin, G Longo. Replacements: M Ledesma for Mendez (30 mins); R Grau for Regiardo (30 mins); M Durand for Phelan (38 mins); G Quesada for Arbizu (40 mins).

FRANCE: N Brusque; A Rougerie, T Marsh, D Traille, N Jeanjean; G Merceron, P Mignoni; R Ibanez (capt), J Poux, F Pelous, O Brouzet, S Betsen, O Magne, C Labit. Replacements: S Chabal for Labit (26 mins); C Porcu for Brouzet (26 mins); S Marconnet for Poux (35 mins); O Azam for Chabal (80 mins).