All you need to know about this blockbuster match in Group C.
2019 Rugby World Cup: France 23-21 Argentina
Played – 52
France wins – 37
Argentina wins – 14
Draws – 1
Most recent meeting – France 28-13 Argentina (17 November 2018)
France were in the midst of a five-game losing streak and conceded a try to the Pumas in the second minute, but thanks to a brace from Teddy Thomas and a try from Guilhem Guirado, the French came from behind to win comfortably.
Did You Know?
- The two sides played each other twice in the 2007 Rugby World Cup with Argentina winning on both occasions. The first match was the opening contest of the tournament and the second fixture was the third-place play-off.
Related: Rugby World Cup Fixtures
In a nutshell
France clung on to win in this tense affair. With a mere two-point lead, Emiliano Boffelli had a long-range penalty to win the contest for los Pumas, but while it had the legs it was slightly to the left.
It could have been much simpler for les Bleus who galloped into a fine lead in he first half and went in at the break 20-3 up. Yet they let Argentina have the run off things in the second, and it needed a Camille Lopez drop-goal in the last ten to wrest back a narrow lead. But no matter how hard they made things for themselves, they now grasp the advantage in Pool C.
The French began playing free-wheeling, offloading, exciting rugby. However, a streetwise Argentina – who no doubt got a rocket from head coach Mario Ledesma – came thundering back with gritty rugby in the second. Lineout mauls and heavy carrying turned the tide.
It transformed into a tense affair, with the dying minutes becoming a contest to see who would blink first. Camille Lopez dropped a goal. Argentina started hoisting up huge kicks in the middle of the park, hoping for mistakes. Ntamack started missing penalty kicks (he had four out of four when he stepped up and hooked one on minute 77).
Gael Fickou’s try came from some sublime stepping from Virimi Vakatawa, who almost popped Pablo Matera’s knees with his footwork. Offloads came in. Damien Penaud made slashing runs and his interplay with soft-handed Maxime Medard laid the groundwork for Antoine Dupont’s score.
But after the break, Guido Petti was making hefty runs and drove a maul over. He then caught another ball and Julian Montoya drove that one over.
It toook a snapshot drop-goal from Lopez to calm the nerves after France surrendered their lead, and the scrap was on.
England will have watched on with interest. Which half will better inform their preparation to meat their heavyweight pool rivals?
Damien Penaud had a tinge of Dr Jekyll and Monsieur Hyde in this one. In the first half he beat seven defenders, made two ripping line breaks and made big yardage. He got the first try but looked dangerous every time he carried. In the second, he was giving away cynical penalties and scrambling in defence. He had to go off with a quarter of an hour left, for an HIA and that was it.
He will ultimately come out with pass marks, but it is telling that in the second half, when Argentina’s pack were very much in the ascendency and the collisions were going the Pumas way, that things dried up for Penaud. His sparky compatriot Dupont suffered a similar reversal of fortunes.
On the other side, Petti was monstrous as Argentina came back in the second 40. The whole Pumas pack played their part but the marauding lock was imperious.
Pablo Matera: “It was not good enough. (It was) a really bad start from us as a team. It’s not good enough with only one (strong) half.”
“France, at the beginning, didn’t do too much but they took their opportunities and they scored points and that’s when they went further ahead with points and it’s difficult to come from behind.”
Guilhem Guirado: “I thought the game was finished and we’d lost. I’m very, very proud of my boys and very happy to start the competition with a win.
“We never controlled the game in the second half but we are very proud of the first half because we were very clinical. When we play like this we are very dangerous.”
Related: Rugby World Cup TV Coverage
France: Maxime Medard (Thomas Ramos 60), Damian Penaud (Camille Lopez 72), Gael Fickou, Virimi Vakatawa, Yoann Huget, Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont (Maxime Machenaud 72); Jefferson Poirot (Cyril Baille 67), Guilhem Guirado (c) (Camille Chat 46), Rabah Slimani (Demba Bamba 46), Arthur Iturria (Bernard Le Roux 54), Sebastien Vahaamahina, Wenceslas Lauret, Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt (Louis Picamoles 60).
Tries: Fickou 17, Dupont 21. Cons: Ntamack 18, 22. Pens: Ntamack 29, 40. Drop-goal: Lopez 69.
Argentina: Emiliano Boffelli, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Jeronimo De la Fuente, Ramiro Moyano (Santiago Carreras 45), Nicolas Sanchez (Benjamin Urdapilleta 56), Tomas Cubelli; Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro (Mayco Vivas 63), Agustin Creevy (Julian Montoya 50), Juan Figallo (Santiago Medrano 51), Guido Petti, Tomas Lavanini (Matias Alemanno 63), Pablo Matera (c), Marcos Kremer, Javier Ortega Desio (Tomas Lezana 60).
Reserves: Felipe Ezcurra.
Tries: Petti 41, Montoya 53. Cons: Sanchez 42. Pens: Sanchez 14,Urdapilleta 60, 68.