Friday, January 24, 2014

Retro Friday - Argentina Score three tries in ten minutes v France in 2002

Quesada impressed v France in 2002
Having completed a Six Nations Grand Slam France toured Argentina in June 2002 looking to extend its winning run to nine matches. The Europeans looked to be set to do so in Buenos Aires against Los Pumas as they held a 13-9 lead only for the South Americans to run in three tries in a ten minute spell.

Two minutes short of the midway point in the second half the South Americans produced ten minutes of magic to set up what would be the first of four consecutive victories over Les Bleus. The first of the three tries was scored by hooker Federico Méndez who was on hand to latch onto an offload from replacement fly half Gonzalo Quesada. 

Quesada had kicked Argentina into the French 22 after the South Americans were awarded a penalty. Olivier Brouzet had stamped on Quesada at the breakdown. The action sparked the Pumas forwards into life as France was pushed around the park by a determined home team in the following minutes. Argentina had a penalty attempt which Felipe Contepomi missed but it mattered not as Quesada subsequently created a new opportunity. 

A well directed up and under kick was collected by Contepomi and after several phases and with Quesada lining up a drop goal the rushing French defence was caught off guard enabling Diego Albanese to complete an impressive solo try in the right corner. Albanese got passed Nicolas Jeanjean who would lose his place in the squad and never play again for France after June 2002. 

The two tries had put Argentina in a commanding position and the French appeared to be feeling the pressure. More was to come though as Quesada opened up territory for the South Americans after kicked well over wigner Aurélien Rougerie. France had a lineout but Raphael Ibañez was off-target which resulted in Argentina advancing only to knock-on. France was not out of jail however as fullback Ignacio Corleto kicked the ball back into the French 22 where fly half Gérald Merceron called mark. 

Merceron took it quickly but France had a brain explosion as replacement Sebastien Chabal passed into the hands of a waiting Contepomi who went over for a try. The crowd erupted as they could feel that Argentina was close to completing an important victory - its first over France in a decade. There was, however, a late scare, as France mounted a comeback which saw the match go down to the wire and be determined by just one point.

The final score of 28-27 put Argentina in a good position to face England the following week but in failing to score a try the South Americans were defeated 26-18. Argentina´s subsequent test matches against France would see further glory as the Marcelo Loffreda era saw Argentina defeat France again and again.

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