France's woes on tour continued on Saturday after Argentina piled on the points to record a memorable 41-13 win in Buenos Aires.
France's woes on tour continued on Saturday after Argentina piled on the points to record a memorable 41-13 win at the JosÃ© Amalfitani Stadium in Buenos Aires.
The Pumas were full value for their victory with fly-half Felipe Contepomi contributing 31 of his side's points thanks to two tries, three conversions and five penalties – a sterling performance from the home side's skipper.
Argentina achieved their highest score and biggest margin against France, which completed a disastrous tour of the southern hemisphere, including a 42-17 mauling from the Springboks two weeks ago.
The previous worse result for the French against Argentina came in the third place play-off at the 2007 World Cup when they lost 34-10.
Both sides were desperate to end their disappointing mid-year seasons on a high, with Les Bleus favourites to take the spoils against a team that just lost a two-Test series against Scotland. Instead, the Six Nations champs were humbled for the second time on a forgetful trip by a classy Argentinean outfit that saved their best for last.
It was a welcome return to winning ways for the hosts, who outscored their visitors four tries to one with number eight Juan MartÃn FernÃ¡ndez Lobbe and wing Lucas GonzÃ¡lez Amorosino adding to Contepomi's brace while Julien Malzieu touched down for France's only five-pointer.
France may have got on the scoreboard first thanks to a Jerome Porical penalty, but it was all Argentina from then on in as the South Americans – led by an inspiring Contepomi – continued to convert pressure into points.
Four penalties from the Pumas fly-half gave the Pumas the lead which they soon stretched to 19-6 at half-time, which was helped along by the sin-binning of France centre Florian Fritz. Argentina took full advantage of fourteen men, and scored a length-of-the-field try sparked by and ended off in the corner by Lobbe.
The French had clearly been rattled by the physicality of Argentina's players and failed to make inroads with any of their attacks. They looked every bit a side filled with players who have come off a long and taxing season, while the Pumas were visibly up for it.
Contepomi then added to his points haul nine minutes after the restart with a converted try, however France's Malzieu provided some resistance with his score in the 49th minute with Morgan Parra adding the conversion to make it 26-13… but that was as close as they got.
With the French defence stretched, Amorosino virtually sealed the result with a 60th minute try following a swallow dive in the corner. Scrum-half Nicolas Vergallo took the ball from a ruck and gave it to Contepomi. He passed to winger Martin Rodriguez Gurruchaga who swept the ball on to Amorosino who crossed for Argentina's third try of the game.
Contepomi failed to convert but added a penalty in the 65th minute. And the skipper rounded off his fine display by again avoiding France's weak defence to touch down for his brace. He added another conversion to put the finishing touches to a convincing win.
“It's desolation,” said stunned France coach Marc Lievremont after the match.
“I don't know how we could sink so badly in these few weeks, to suffer two points records in South Africa and now here in Argentina.
“I expected tough matches, but these defeats are ridiculous. It was a nightmare.”
We couldn't have put it better ourselves.
Man of the match: This impressive and brutally effective performance by the Pumas was spearheaded by points machine Felipe Contepomi – who needs Juan Martin Hernandez when you got this guy?
Moment of the match: Juan MartÃn FernÃ¡ndez Lobbe struck a decisive blow when he crossed the chalk just before half-time to send his side down the tunnel ahead.
Villain of the match: The yellow card to Florian Fritz proved to be a costly one as France never got back in the game following the centre's ten-minute break.
Tries: Lobbe, Contepomi 2, Amorosino
Cons: Contepomi 3
Pens: Contepomi 5
Pens: Porical, Parra
Yellow card: Fritz, 36 mins (France – repeated offences at the breakdown)
Argentina:15 MartÃn RodrÃguez, 14 Lucas GonzÃ¡lez Amorosino, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Santiago FernÃ¡ndez, 11 Rafael Carballo, 10 Felipe Contepomi, 9 NicolÃ¡s Vergallo, 8 Juan MartÃn FernÃ¡ndez Lobbe, 7 Alejandro Campos, 6 Genaro Fessia, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 MartÃn Scelzo, 2 Mario Ledesma, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements:16 AgustÃn Creevy, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Juan Manuel LeguizamÃ³n, 21 AgustÃn Figuerola, 22 Horacio Agulla.
France: 15 Jerome Porical, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Lionel Mazars, 12 Florian Fritz, 11 Julien Malzieu, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Julien Bonnaire , 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Lionel Nallet, 4 Pascal PapÃ©, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Fabien Barcella.
Replacements: 16 Guillem Guirado, 17 Jean-Baptise Poux, 18 Julien Pierre, 19 Gregory Lamboley, 20 Dimitri Yachvili, 21 Maxime Mermoz, 22 ClÃ©ment Poitrenaud.
Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia