Petti try seals victory for Argentina

Guido Petti Pagadizabal (AP)
Guido Petti Pagadizabal (AP)

Tucuman - Lock Guido Petti burst through the France defence to score a try six minutes from time that sealed a 30-19 first Test victory for Argentina in Tucuman on Sunday.

The giant forward ran like a back, shrugging off tackles, keeping his footing when seemingly destined to slip and outpacing a pack of pursuers to dot down close to the posts.

Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez converted to complete the scoring at Estadio Monumental Jose Fierro and finish with 15 points from three conversions and three penalties.

Huge winger Manuel Montero and full-back Joaquin Tuculet were the other try scorers for the Pumas, who led 17-10 at half-time.

It was the second victory in nine days for Argentina after a 30-24 success over Italy in a one-off Test in Santa Fe.

The South Americans face France again in northern city Tucuman on Saturday in the second and final Test of the series.

France started with seven new caps in a side severely weakened by the absence of stars from Toulon, Racing 92, Clermont and Montpellier, who were involved in the Top 14 semi-finals.

Flyhalf Jules Plisson, skipper in the absence of hooker Guilhem Guirado, converted a try by debutant hooker Remi Bonfils and slotted four penalties.

The result was a far cry from the only previous Test in Tucuman involving France, whose 49-10 triumph in 2012 is the record winning margin in 49 Tests between the countries.

This Test was a tale of three spells, with Argentina building a 17-3 lead after 28 minutes, then France scoring 16 unanswered points to edge ahead 19-17 on 54 minutes.

Argentina regained control to score 13 points without reply and take the game away from France, who were playing for the first time since a Six Nations loss to England in Paris three months ago.

All the Argentine tries were top class with slick, quick handling sending Montero over in the corner for the first.

The second was even better as Tuculet took a pass from Montero and accelerated rapidly to leave several blue-shirted Frenchmen in his wake.

France began their comeback from a 14-point deficit on 32 minutes with Bonfils barging over after a powerful surge by the pack.

A shootout between Plisson and Sanchez then ensued with the French playmaker kicking three before the Argentine slotted two.

Petti then scored to seal success for the hosts.

Both teams had a forward sin-binned by Irish referee John Lacey.

Lock Javier Ortega Desio was yellow-carded early in the second half after the match official lost patience with the constantly-infringing Pumas.

Only two minutes after he returned to the field, French loose head prop Jefferson Poirot was punished for a deliberate knock-on.

Argentina and France scored six points each while they enjoyed a numerical advantage.

Pumas skipper and hooker Agustin Creevy was lucky not to be punished as his kick into the back of fallen replacement forward Louis Picamoles went unnoticed by the referee.

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