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Fabien Galthié’s men had to fight to win (29-20) against pugnacious Pumas at the Stade de France in front of 50,000 spectators.
Stifled then suffocating. Fabien Galthié’s Blues, hooked for forty minutes before breaking free, accomplished their mission by winning their first test match of the fall, Saturday, November 6, against Argentina (29-20).
The first international test of the neophyte Thibaud Flament (49e), only his fourth pro try, and that of Peato Mauvaka (71e) allowed the XV of France, sluggish or even downright laborious at times, to have the Pumas for the fourth time in a row.
Before that, it was the foot of Melvyn Jaminet, author of 19 points (5 penalties, 2 conversions) who kept the Blues out of the water.
The back of Perpignan, “nugget” of the summer tour in Australia, is the best director of the Blues in 2021 with 60 points in four matches.
Because the Pumas, who remained on six consecutive losses, all in Rugby Championship, gave a hard time to the teammates of Antoine Dupont.
Solid, if not brilliant, the new French captain, the 96e of history, the 31e since 2000, has guided his Blues to a 38e success in front of the Pumas, the thirteenth victory of the Galthié era.
In the end, the French coach, like his predecessors Guy Novès (52-8 against Samoa), Philippe Saint-André (33-6 against Australia), Marc Lièvremont (12-6 ahead of Argentina) or Jean- Claude Skrela (22-15 against the All Blacks), won his first game of a real fall tour.
However, he will not necessarily smile as his men have struggled to set up their game.
Faced with the South Americans, they have indeed fallen on a bone, the Pumas imposing an incredible fight to the French less in verve than usual.
Lack of discipline
Tactical changes, including the Romain Ntamack-Matthieu Jalibert association, do not explain everything. No more than the unnecessary yellow card collected by Julien Marchand for a collision with Marcos Kremer (27e).
This is the seventh time that the Blues of Galthié are outnumbered, after Grégory Alldritt against Wales (23-27) in February 2020, François Cros against Scotland (28-17) in March 2020, Anthony Bouthier against the ‘Ireland (35-27) in October 2020, Bernard Le Roux against Ireland (13-15) in February 2021, Mohamed Haouas against Wales (32-30) in March 2021 and Baptiste Serin against Scotland (23-27 ) in March 2021.
To which must be added the two red cards of Haouas and Willemse.
Ntamack and Jalibert, them, had a complicated evening, the Bordelais being, for example, countered by Pablo Matera on the test of Tomas Cubelli (21e).
The Toulousain, him, came out after 54 minutes, head down, looking like a bad day, after a cutesy performance (2 penalties conceded, a failed tackle).
And it is the replacements, these “finishers” dear to the staff of the Blues, who made the difference, bringing percussion and freshness to a team often borrowed (10 balls lost, 13 penalties conceded).
In front of some 50,000 supporters present at the Stade de France, a first since February 9, 2020 and a 35-22 success against Italy, the Blues have long been rough, but ended up winning after a match harsh.
Six hundred tries six days, or one year, eight months and twenty-six days later, the France team has won its tenth home game since the end of the World Cup-2019. The only team to have come to win at the Stade de France is Scotland (23-27), at the end of the 2021 Six Nations Tournament. Something to be reassured – a little – a little before the XXL shock, in two weeks, against the All Blacks.