Pumas power past France
Argentina made it another clean sweep for the four big guns of the Southern Hemisphere as they edged France 23-20.
Argentina made it another clean sweep for the four big guns of the Southern Hemisphere as they edged France 23-20 in the first of two Tests in Córdoba on Saturday.
It was Argentina's second consecutive victory in the June Test window, after they beat Italy in San Juan last weekend.
And it follows on wins by their new Rugby Championship opponents - South Africa (over England), New Zealand (over Ireland) and Australia (over Wales) - who all took unassailable 2-0 leads in their mid-year internationals to re-confirm the Southern Hemisphere dominance over their rivals from the north.
Argentina meet France again in Tucuman next Saturday.
Puma wings Belisario Agulla and Manuel Montero scored tries - the latter coming in the last five minutes - as the home team continued the amazing run they have had over the French, having won seven of their last 10 encounters with Les Bleus.
Centre Felipe Contepomi kicked 13 points with three penalties and two conversions.
The home side, having conceded an early penalty kicked by France scrumhalf Morgan Parra, went 7-3 up with the try by Agulla and captain Contepomi's first conversion.
However, No.8 Louis Picamoles went over for France close to the half-hour mark and two more Parra penalties helped the visiting side go in 14-13 ahead at half-time.
Further penalties from Parra and flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc to one from Contepomi had the French leading 20-16, but they were unable to take advantage when Pumas number eight Tomas Leonardi went to the sin bin.
With four minutes left and France enjoying the lions share of possession, Contepomi recovered the ball in defence, centre Joaquin Tuculet kicked ahead and Montero chased for a try with the captain converting.
Tries: Agulla, Montero
Cons: Contepomi 2
Pens: Contepomi 3
Pens: Parra 5
Yellow card: Tomas Leonardi (Argentina, 53 - professional foul, offside)
Argentina: 15 Roman Miralles, 14 Belisario Agulla, 13 Joaquin Tuculet, 12 Felipe Contepomi (captain), 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Tomas De la Vega, 7 Tomas Leonardi, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Esteban Lozada, 4 Benjamin Macome, 3 Francisco Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Bruno Postiglioni, 1 Eusebio Guinazu.
Replacements: 16 Andres Bordoy, 17 Pablo Henn, 18 Rodrigo Bruno, 19 Rodrigo Baez, 20 Tomas Cubelli, 21 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 22 Facundo Barrera.
France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 13 Wesley Fofana, 12 Florian Fritz, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 7 Louis Picamoles, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Pascal Pape (captain), 3 David Attoub, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Yvan Watremez.
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Romain Taofifenua, 19 Alexandre Lapandry, 20 Maxime Machenaud, 21 Frederic Michalak, 22 Maxime Mermoz.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Christie du Preez (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)