Pumas sign off with second win over France

Argentina ended the World Cup the way they had started it, running in five tries to tame France 34-10 in an ill-tempered third-place playoff at the Parc des Princes on Friday.

The Pumas, who defeated the hosts in the opening game of the tournament, did it again to secure their sixth win from the last seven meetings against opponents they love to upset.

Their five tries, including two from centre Felipe Contepomi, enabled Argentina to sign off in style after a brilliant run which also included wins over Ireland and Scotland.

The victory was no consolation for Argentina after their semifinal defeat by South Africa but a suitable conclusion to a campaign that saw them reach the last four for the first time.

France, who were denied a place in Saturday’s final by England, ended a frustrating campaign with a nervous display in a tense game marred by many ugly scenes.

They had to be content with a second-half try by fullback Clement Poitrenaud, converted by substitute flyhalf Lionel Beauxis, and an early penalty from scrumhalf Jean-Baptiste Elissalde.

An infringement by the Pumas in a ruck gave France that penalty, which Elissalde kicked to put them ahead on the scoreboard after 18 minutes.

Argentina levelled soon after that, with a penalty by Contepomi, who then touched down in the left corner after a fluent move by the Pumas’ backline for the first try of the match, which he converted to put his side 10-3 up on the half hour.

Yellow cards

A collective effort by the Argentine forwards gave them a second try between the posts by prop Omar Hasan and an easy conversion for Contepomi which enabled Argentina to change ends leading 17-3.

France camped near Argentina’s tryline in the closing stages of the half but were not rewarded and referee Paul Honiss, who struggled to keep a messy affair under control, distributed two yellow cards just before the break, one for France captain Raphael Ibanez and one for Argentine lock Rimas Alvarez.

The pair had just returned when a superb combination sparked by fullback Ignacio Corleto ended with speedy wing Federico Martin Aramburu diving over in the right corner.

France were charging forward hoping to reduce the arrears and Argentina were again reduced to 14 with a yellow card for substitute flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon when a swift run along the touchline from a counter-attack by Corleto gave the Pumas their fourth try.

Poitrenaud’s consolation try, following a breakthrough by number eight Imanol Harinordoquy, and a late burst of pride were far from enough for France, who saw Contepomi kill their hopes with his second try of the match, which he converted.

The match was the last in charge of their respective countries for France coach Bernard Laporte, set to take up a position in the French government, and his Argentine counterpart Marcelo Loffreda, moving on to England as coach of the Leicester Tigers.

Several France players, among them Ibanez, probably played their last international on a pitch that was the home of French rugby for decades and where the national team had not played for 10 years. - Reuters

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