French toast tough Pu­mas de­feat

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - RACING -

FRANCE pro­duced some cham­pagne rugby be­fore al­most los­ing the plot, hav­ing to sur­vive a last­gasp penalty at­tempt to pip Ar­gentina in their opener yes­ter­day.

Fly-half Ro­main Nta­mack led a schiz­o­phrenic French per­for­mance with 10 points as the three-time fi­nal­ists hung on, 23-21, to win a pul­sat­ing Pool C clash in Tokyo to leave the Pu­mas star­ing into the abyss in the tour­na­ment’s so-called “group of death”.

Ar­gentina, who will likely need to beat Eng­land to avoid an early exit, al­most pulled off an as­ton­ish­ing comeback af­ter be­ing sent into bat­tle by an emo­tional ral­ly­ing cry from foot­ball leg­end Diego Maradona.

Trail­ing by 17 points at half-time, they fell just short af­ter a last-minute penalty at­tempt from Emil­iano Bof­felli sailed just wide, al­low­ing France to claim a cru­cial vic­tory.

“I thought the game was fin­ished, I thought we’d lost the game,” said France cap­tain Guil­hem Guirado, re­fer­ring to the late penalty Aus­tralian ref­eree An­gus Gard­ner awarded.

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