Baptiste Serin stars as France out-class Argentina

Baptiste Serin stars as France out-class Argentina

A young France line-up proved too strong for Argentina on Saturday as they clinched a comfortable 28-13 in Mendoza.

Fabien Galthie flexed Les Bleus' depth as his charges ran in three tries to Argentina's one, as Felipe Contepomi's tenure as head coach of the Pumas started with a disappointing defeat.

Tries from captain Baptiste Serin and debutants Antoine Frisch and Theo Attisogbe saw France to a convincing victory, with Antoine Hastoy adding 10 points from the tee - and Melvyn Jaminet kicking a penalty.

For Los Pumas, skipper Julian Montoya and centre Matias Orlando scored their tries in what was an ill-disciplined performance.

French boss Galthie named six uncapped players in his starting XV, but a late change saw that number bloat to seven, with another on the bench. The total starting caps racked up to just 97, most of which coming from Serin.

Meanwhile, Contepomi named a far more experienced squad, with just one player not representing Argentina at the World Cup last year despite many stars being rested.

This led to a frenetic start to the match strewn with handling errors and turnovers, hefty hits, and abrasive collisions. However, with little cohesion for both sets of players, the sides struggled to make the most of their opportunities.

In fact, it took until the 22nd minute for France to open the scoring and it came after a sustained period of attack and pressure on the hosts with Hastoy eventually taking the tee and knocking over the first three points of the match.

But France almost immediately let the hosts level the scores when Oscar Jegou made a poor no-arms tackle to gift Carreras a shot at goal, which he drilled through the uprights with little fuss.

Argentina looked to have taken the lead for the first time soon after when Martin Bogado chipped over the top and seemed to have scored in the corner but upon a TMO review, Toulon-bound midfielder Frisch had made an excellent tackle to deny the full-back.

The French scrum was steaming along in the first half but it was the lineout that provided the first try of the match but more accurately the brilliance of stand-in captain Serin.

With Antoine Dupont off with the sevens squad chasing his Olympic dream, France still got some magic from the number nine jumper as Serin threw a dummy from the lineout, sliced through a gap, put in short grabber, nudged it on and - despite an early tackle from Paolo Matera - managed to dot the ball down over the line while appealing to the referee mid-air for the early challenge. A glorious solo try.

Hastoy would add the extras from out wide before the fly-half booted the ball into touch a few minutes later as Les Bleus led 10-3 at the break.

A bright start from France in the second half looked to bear some fruit as prop Georges-Henri Colombe thundered the ball down, but the front-rower had a poor poker face and rightly so as he had slammed the ball on the ground well short and denied the try.

But Les Bleus were rewarded soon afterwards as debutant Frisch rounded off a stunning score after another powerful scrum. He cantered through a gap in Pumas' defence after some lovely hands in close quarters and won the race to the line. Hastoy added another penalty as the young French side extended their lead to 20-3.

However, a penalty kick to the corner gave Argentina a sniff and captain Montoya made the most of it has he ran over the top of winger Lester Etien after a slick dummy driving maul from the lineout. Tomas Albornoz scuffed the extras badly as he attempted to convert.

Again the French scrum dominated, and a brilliant 50:22 from Serin put France back into the Los Pumas 22 after a lovely bit of attack, one poor pass led to Hastoy popping a pass up to Attisogbe running an angle and the rookie powered through three defenders to score a great try.

Replacement full-back Jaminet added a penalty soon after before Orlando pounced to score an opportunistic try and a consolation one as the game was well beyond their reach.

France will play again on Wednesday in a midweek fixture against Uruguay before clashing with Los Pumas again next Saturday. 

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