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Pumas lose momentum as clinical Clerc bags brace

Vincent Clerc scored two tries and Frederic Michalak booted 24 points as France followed up their rout of Australia with a home victory over Argentina in Lille.

Argentina, who face Ireland on Saturday, had started well and led 13-3 after 17 minutes, but Clerc's first try sparked a run of 21 unanswered points that saw the hosts establish a 24-13 half-time advantage.

The Pumas continued to battle hard in the second half and reduced the gap to eight points on a couple of occasions, but they could not get any closer and Michalak's kicking ensured France came out on top.

Les Bleus stunned the Wallabies 33-6 in Paris last weekend but they have found Argentina a tough nut to crack and have only have triumphed in four of the 11 meetings between the sides.


And another night of disappointment looked to be on the cards for the French when, after Michalak had put them ahead with a penalty, Argentina promptly replied with a flurry of points.

A break from Gonzalo Tiesi helped centre Marcelo Bosch, who plays for Biarritz, go over for the game's opening try in the fourth minute, and then Nicolas Sanchez added eight points from the conversion and two penalties.

Argentina soon found themselves on the back foot and a 17-minute 21-point blitz from the French all but ended the Pumas' hopes of following up their win over Wales with another triumph.

Winger Clerc collected two clinical tries – taking his tally for his country to 34 – and flanker Yannick Nyanga crossed for another in quick succession as, with Michalak adding the extras for each, the hosts powered into an 11-point lead at the interval.

There were no more tries in the second half, which turned into a shoot-out between the kickers.

Sanchez rallied Argentina with two penalties and a drop goal, taking his tally to 17, but Michalak slammed the door shut with three more penalties.

Irish Independent