Late World Cup drama as France drop goal denies thrilling Argentina comeback
France and Argentina played out another cracker as the first 'Super Saturday' of the World Cup lived up to its' moniker.
Given the quality present in both the French and Argentinean squads, expectations were fairly high. France started this game like a train yet, come half-time, few would have guessed a clutch drop goal would decide how it all ended.
Argentina had a late penalty to get the victory their stirring comeback merited but it was not to be and they were left angered by French celebrations at the final whistle.
France 23-21 Argentina
Coming into the game, it seemed that history favoured the French as they have triumphed in four of their previous six test matches against the Argentines and hold a 36-14 historical edge over their opponents too.
France kicked off the game following a stirring rendition of La Marseillaise and Australian Angus Gardner in charge of the proceedings.
. @lospumas first national anthem at #RWC2019 didn't disappoint. Incredible passion#FRAvARG #SuperSaturday pic.twitter.com/EkAvGFta8X
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) September 21, 2019
10 minutes in and Argentina won a penalty following a scrum as the French floundered in their set-piece. The subsequent penalty was put wide by Nicolas Sanchez and the scoreless match rumbled on.
But the chance for redemption reared its head just four minutes later as France were penalised for an offside, awarding the Argentines yet another penalty and this time Sanchez duly converted to earn three points for the Pumas.
Not to be outdone, France fought back as Gael Fickou touched down in the 16th minute to score a try; the Argentine defence was left clueless there and Romain Ntamack duly finished off the conversion to tick the score to 3-7 to France.
7 - France have won their opening game in seven of their previous eight @rugbyworldcup campaigns; a 17-12 loss to Argentina in 2007 their only blemish in that period. Thorn. pic.twitter.com/eLMA8IQP4l
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) September 21, 2019
20 minutes into the match and France were playing with an exerted swagger as they hammered in their second converted try when Antoine Dupont applied the finishing touches to a sweet team manoeuvre. And once again, Ntamack secured the extras. 14-3 to France it stood.
High-flying France were whizzing with flair and panache and secured a penalty in the 28th minute following a high tackle by the Argentines. And again, Ntamack stepped up to extend France's lead by 14 points with the score at 17-3 to France.
Credit where due, the Argentines didn't take the score lying down; but despite an improved performance in the final 10 minutes of the first half, they conceded yet another penalty seconds before the halftime gong. And who else but the Ntamack stepped up to yet again to convert with ease to raise the score to 20-3 at the break.
While most people wouldn't fancy France to go all the way in this tournament, they certainly broadcasted their potential with a glowing first half performance. Ntamack executed a near flawless game and Damian Penaud was also excellent.
The second half followed and just two minutes in, much to everyone's surprise it was the Pumas who demonstrated guile as they opted for a corner after Gael Fickou was penalised for being offside. Guido Petti Pagadizaval slickly grabbed a try off the back of maul and the South Americans cut the lead to 10 points as Sanchez converted to take the score to 20-10 to France.
53 minutes into the second half and it was the Argentines who would score again following a driving maul as Julian Montoya grabbed a crucial try. Sanchez missed the conversion as the score read 20-15 to France.
In the 58th minute, Penaud who enjoyed a superb first half gave away a penalty and Argentina smartly took advantage to stem the bleeding; Benjamin Urdapilleta smartly converted to push the score to 20-18 to France with 20 minutes left to fight for.
68 minutes into the game and Argentina had the golden opportunity to take the lead after a penalty was awarded following a TMO review. With no sign of any trepidation, Urdapilleta converted the penalty to put Argentina in front as the game entered its final 10 minutes. A daring comeback was on the cards.
Just three minutes later though, France re-took the lead after a penalty and Camille Lopez added three more points as France led 23-21 with less than 10 minutes to play.
With such a close battle and victory still be secured, both teams fought it out and in the 76th minute, France were awarded a penalty as Argentina were adjudged to have stepped into the side deep within their own half, but the burgeoning pressure might have weighed on Ntamack as the young fly-half skewed his shot wide.
Drama ensued in the 79th minute as Argentina were awarded a penalty; a chance for the Pumas to secure the win in the dying embers of the game. The collective hopes of the South American nation and its fans fell upon Urdapilleta who stepped up to take the shot.....and he missed, shanked left and wide.
Argentina will be kicking themselves for letting this result slip out of their grasp given their stirring comeback from 20-3 at one point and they could've clinched the tie at the death were it not for their missed penalty. Their courage will have won quite a few hearts and minds.
France appeared to have a game of two halves, starting strong but fading in the second half and eventually doing just enough to keep the Pumas at bay in this high drama encounter.
France win and IT'S ALL KICKED OFF!!!!
20-man brawl at the end as Argentina take exception to French celebrations 👜👜👜#FRAvARG
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) September 21, 2019
There was a huge dust-up at the very end as several Argentine players took exceptions to France's exuberant celebrations.