France picked up a rare 15-9 win over Argentina in Montpellier on Saturday.
Looking at the last nine clashes between these two teams, Argentina won seven of them – including the 41-13 hammering in Buenos Aires earlier this year. However, the hosts triumphed at the Stade de la Mosson as scrumhalf Morgan Parra kicked 12 points to secure France’s third win over the South Americans in eight years.
Despite the victory, France will feel hard done by as they should have won by a greater margin. Argentina only managed to stay within touch thanks to referee Jonathan Kaplan, who arguably produced the most lenient display from an official in 2010.
France were rampant on attack and looked like crossing the chalk on several occasions in the first half but Argentina halted their momentum through foul play. Scrumhalf Nicolás Vergallo clearly threw two punches at the breakdown but escaped with a warning. The visitors were also guilty of frequent breakdown and scrum infringements while French skipper Thierry Dusautoir was held back during an attacking break in midfield.
These deliberate offences were all penalised by Kaplan but he didn’t feel the need to reach for his yellow card. This would have given France a number advantage on the field while Argentina would have been forced to play clean or lose more men to the sin bin.
Instead, the hosts had to settle for a 9-3 lead at half-time as Parra slotted three penalties. Flyhalf Felipe Contepomi converted a penalty for the visitors.
Both teams were guilty of an erratic performance in the second half. The match turned into a stop-start affair as handling errors were recurrent. Contepomi’s boot made it a close contest but France managed to seal the game as Parra kicked his fourth penalty and flyhalf Damien Traille added a drop goal.