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Cordoba, Argentina – Argentina scored a late try to complete a come-from-behind 23-20 win over France on Saturday as the tourists failed to end their 14-year wait for a victory on the Pumas' soil.
France led 14-13 at the interval before stretching their advantage at the Mario Kempes stadium to 20-13 with two further second half penalties from scrum-half Morgan Parra.
But Argentina, fresh from a 37-22 win over Italy last weekend, hit back with a penalty from skipper Felipe Contepomi before a try three minutes from time from winger Manuel Montero, converted by Contepomi, gave the home side victory.
France, whose last win in Argentina came back in 1998, had led at the interval thanks to a 25th-minute try from No 8 Louis Picamoles and three penalties from Parra.
The Pumas, however, had grabbed the first try of the match after only four minutes when winger Belisario Agulla had scored off an interception.
Contepomi converted before the centre also added two penalties.
France manager Philippe Saint-Andre commented: “You have to congratulate the Argentines who never let up over 80 minutes.
“As for us, we have to respect the game. When you concede 13 points in the first half it's hard to win an international match.
“We're going to prepare for the second Test but today we lost and bravo to the Argentines.”
He added: “We're going to try to stop interceptions, that cost us 14 points. At the top level you have to score when the going's good and not concede when times are tough.
“The Argentines had only a couple of decent periods and on each occasion, due to our mistakes, they scored.
“They are a young side like us but they are more pragmatic.”
Losing captain Pascal Pape echoed his coach's sentiments, reflecting: “The match was tough, as it always is against the Argentine team, but with a minimum of pragmatism I think we could have won it.
“If we want to become a great side on the world stage we have to be good playing away in front of hostile crowds.”
Argentine coach Santiago Phelan said that despite the result his side still had aspects of their game to work on.
“We've got lots of things to correct so that we can improve, especially in touch and in the scrum but also in keeping the ball.
“But overall we're satisfied to have been able to beat a competitive team like France with a young side without playing well and with a very good defence.”
The two sides will meet again in Tucuman next weekend.
French prop Yvan Watremez, who picked up a left leg injury on his first cap, is highly doubtful for the second Test.
Saint-Andre is due to announce his line-up for the Tucuman game on Thursday. – Sapa-AFP