TOKYO – France dominated the first half, held on in the second and survived a final-minute scare to edge Argentina 23-21 in a thrilling Rugby World Cup Pool C clash at Tokyo Stadium on Saturday.
A drop goal from replacement flyhalf Camille Lopez 10 minutes from time gave the three-times finalists a victory which looked like they were going to romp to when they took a 20-3 lead into halftime.
Two tries in four minutes from centre Gael Fickou and scrumhalf Antoine Dupont had put the French well on top but the Pumas hit back with lock Guido Petti and hooker Julian Montoya going over from attacking lineouts.
Argentina fullback Emiliano Boffelli, however, missed a 47-metre penalty in the final moments to leave the twice World Cup semi-finalists probably needing to beat an in-form England to get into the knockout stages.
“I'm very proud of my boys. It was a tough game but we are very happy to start with a win,” said France captain Guilhem Guirado. “In the second half we never controlled the ball or the game but I am very proud of the first half because we were very clinical. When we play like that we are very dangerous.”