Fringe French fail to impress

French Barbarians 14 Argentina 28

Twelve players who have had no or limited playing time for France so far in the Six Nations Championship were released for the clash in Biarritz.

They would have been hoping to make a good impression in front of head coach, Bernard Laporte, and team manager, Jo Maso, with Sunday’s Twickenham game against England on the horizon.

But few performed with distinction as the Pumas ran out winners thanks to a strong first-half display that saw them score three tries.

The Baabaas rallied, Elvis Vermeulen and Thomas Lievremont going over for tries either side of half-time, but in all a number of their players will see this as a wasted opportunity.

An early converted try by Agustin Pichot and a penalty from Juan Martin Hernandez made it 10-0 after just 10 minutes. And Hernandez soon took his personal tally to seven points in the 15th minute when he converted a score by Martin Durand.

The flanker barged over from close range, finishing off after Lucas Ostiglia had done the hard work with a piercing run down the right flank.

Hernandez, Stade Francais’ regular full-back, nailed a 20th-minute penalty to stretch the lead, and the Baabaas fell further behind four minutes later.

A slaloming run by full-back Federico Serra caused havoc in the hosts’ rearguard, and with the defence at sixes and sevens Durand drove over for his second try.

Only then did the Barbarians, 25-0 behind and with the crowd on their back, begin to find their feet.

They should have registered their first try in the 29th minute, but referee, Alain Rolland, failed to see Lievremont ground the ball following a bludgeoning forward assault close to the Pumas line.

The score did arrive on the stroke of half-time, however, when Vermeulen peeled off a ruck to plough over from close range. Lionel Beauxis converted.

The Barbarians improved slightly after the break, and a sustained pummelling up front resulted in Manuel Contepomi and Rimas Alvarez receiving yellow cards in the space of two minutes for illegally slowing the ball down.

The hosts were unable to take advantage of their numerical superiority but did close the gap further on the hour mark.

Captain Lievremont received the ball on the right, dummied his way past Hernandez, powered through Pichot’s tackle and trotted over under the posts. Again, Beauxis converted.

BARBARIANS: A Floch, A Rougerie, G Messina, D Traille, R Caucaunibuca, L Beauxis, JB Elissalde, E Vermeulen, T Lievremont (capt), T Dusautoir, D Auradou, J Pierre, JB Poux, B August, L Emmanuelli.

ARGENTINA: F Serra, H Agulla, M Gaitan, M Contepomi, L Borges, JM Hernandez,, A Pichot (capt), G Longo,, L Ostiglia, M Durand,, R Alvarez, P Albacete,, O Hasan,, M Ledesma, R Roncero.

Replacements: A Vernet Basualdo, M Scelzo, M Carizza, A Petrilli, N Fernandez Miranda, H Senillosa, P Gomez Cora.

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