Ignacio Corleto scores the only try of the match for Argentina

PARIS, 7 September - Argentina caused a huge upset in the opening match of the IRB Rugby World Cup by beating France 17-12 at the Stade de France on Friday, handing the host nation their first ever defeat in the pool stages.

Felipe Contepomi missed a penalty at the death, giving France an opportunity to launch one last attack, but it came to nothing and referee Tony Spreadbury blew for fulltime, sparking wild celebrations among the Argentine players.

Argentina had lost in their two previous appearances in the world cup opening match, but their resolute defence early in the second half against an improved French outfit proved decisive as they repelled drive after drive before Christophe Dominici was penalised for holding on and the Pumas were able to clear their lines.

David Skrela missed a straightforward penalty for France, but made amends just before the hour mark with another to reduce the deficit to 17-12 before limping off to be replaced by Frederic Michalak.

France continued to look threatening in attack, but the ball went loose and the Pumas hacked it up field, full back Ignacio Corleto chasing and recovering the ball, but Felipe Contepomi couldn't take his low pass for what would have been a potentially match-winning try.

The Pumas defence continued to hold firm, but it could have been a different story had Michalak not skewed his first penalty attempt with nine minutes to go, a miss that, together with Skrela's, ultimately proved costly for Les Bleus.

Corleto had earlier scored the only try of the Pool D opener to give the Pumas a 17-9 half-time lead. A try for France had seemed on the cards when Damien Traille broke through the Pumas defence and fed Remy Martin, but the flanker's pass found Argentine wing Horacio Agulla. He found Manuel Contepomi, who released Corleto to run to the corner.

Felipe Contepomi's conversion hit the post, but Argentina led 14-3 after 27 minutes with the fly half having also kicked three penalties. It could have been worse for France with the Pumas missing three drop goal attempts, two by Juan Martin Hernandez and one by Felipe Contepomi.

France fly half Skrela kicked three penalties for France, his third being the final act of the first 40 minutes and cutting the deficit to eight points after a fourth penalty by Felipe Contepomi had given Argentina a lead their performance deserved. 

RNS kb/sek