GARETH DUNCAN watched France break down an early 13-3 deficit to secure a 39-22 win over Argentina in Lille.
Former France coach Marc Lievremont once highlighted Les Bleus’ inconsistencies by saying: ‘One day, my team will deliver an 18/20 performance. The next week, they’ll put in an 8/20 performance.’
However, his successor Philippe Saint-Andre seems to be getting the best out of his charges as they added a good win over Argentina to their 33-6 thrashing of the Wallabies in Paris last Saturday.
An upset was on the cards as the Pumas rushed into a 10-point advantage during the first quarter of the fixture. However, France gained the ascendancy thereafter thanks to their accurate tactical kicking game, smart interplay and resilient defence.
After a frantic first half, the hosts did well to suffocate and restrict the Pumas by bossing possession and tightening up the game. Argentina threatened in the loose, but their attack stifled as soon as France delivered more appropriate tactics after the break.
With flyhalf Frederic Michalak, who kicked 24 points with the boot, slotting four penalties and a drop goal in the second half, France sealed the win.
Argentina started off strongly as they secured an early try via inside centre Marcelo Bosch. The midfielder enjoyed an easy run to the whitewash after clever passing and support play. Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez added the conversion before slotting two penalties.
However, France rallied into a 24-13 half-time lead thanks to a brace from wing Vincent Clerc and flank Yannick Nyanga, who’s been in great form after a five-year international absence.
Clerc’s first came from great interplay among backs and forwards, which exposed the Argentine defence out wide, before a clever chip put the veteran through for his double. Nyanga showed great power as he attacked around the fringes to motor to the tryline.
The second stanza saw no tries scored as both teams battled via the boot. Michalak enjoyed more successful shots at goal (five compared to Sanchez’s three) and kicked France to victory.