Argentina beat France in World Cup Opener

Argentina rocked tournament hosts France with a sensational 17-12 victory in the opening match of the 2007 Rugby World Cup in Paris.

The inspired Pumas outplayed an error-ridden and nervous-looking France and took control with a first-half try from full-back Ignacio Corleto.

Corletto

Centre Felipe Contepomi chipped in with 12 points to leave the 80,000-strong Stade de France crowd stunned.

France could only muster four penalties from struggling fly-half David Skrela.
The French became only the second home side in the six-event history of the World Cup to lose their opening game. England lost to New Zealand in 1991.

No side since the tournament’s inception in 1987 has lost a game in the pool stages and still gone on to win the World Cup.

“Argentina should be proud. I think we do exist,” said Pumas skipper Agustin Pichot, playing in his fourth World Cup.

“We’re not the best tactical players or the best technically, but our best resources are the passion and pride when we put on the jersey.”

France coach Bernard Laporte said: “When you begin a World Cup and it is imperative to win the match and you lose, you can say only one thing that the sky has fallen in on your head.”

Argentina ripped into France from the off and the intensity of their start looked to have unsettled Les Bleus.

Pumas fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez tried a couple of early drop-goals before Felipe Contepomi, playing inside his brother Manuel, slotted the first points of the World Cup with a penalty on five minutes.

Skrela hit back for France but Argentina were on the front foot and a promising foray deep into French territory resulted in another penalty for the Pumas.

France were edgy and lacking their usual sharpness and precision, while Argentina’s forwards were aggressive and eager, coupled with the enterprising Felipe Contepomi and Hernandez asking a variety of questions behind the scrum.

The hosts finally showed some trademark spark with a threatening, surging break involving the likes of power runners Yannick Jauzion and Aurelien Rougerie.

But the move broke down and soon Felipe Contepomi stroked Argentina further ahead with a third penalty, shortly after missing with a speculative drop-goal effort.

Three minutes later, France suffered a deeper blow when a dangerous run from Damien Traille ended with Remy Martin throwing an interception.

Argentina’s Felipe Contepomi shipped on the ball quickly to racy full-back Corleto, who outpaced the covering defence to score in the right corner.

Felipe Contepomi missed with his conversion and France sneaked back another penalty when Skrela’s break set up good field position. And the French fly-half traded another kick with Contepomi to close the first half eight points adrift.

France’s forward battalions had a point to prove after the break and a rumbling, driving maul, roared on by an expectant crowd, looked certain to set up a close-range score with barely five minutes gone.

But Argentina bravely withstood repeated surges at their line before drawing a penalty to snuff out the danger and make an emphatic point of their own.

Skrela, suffering a poor night all round, missed a crucial penalty on 55 minutes, though he found the target soon after to narrow the gap to 12-17.
 
But Argentina went close to putting the game out of sight with 16 minutes left, only for Felipe Contepomi to spill what may have been the scoring pass after a lightning counter attack.

France squandered another opportunity to edge closer when Frederic Michalak, on for Skrela, missed a three-pointer with 10 minutes left.

The Pumas missed two late penalties of their own but a monstrous defensive display backed up by a simple gameplan was enough to secure a famous victory.

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