First-five Camille Lopez came off the bench to nail an audacious dropped goal as France withstood a ferocious Argentina comeback to win 23-21 in their Rugby World Cup Pool C opener.
Argentina rallied from a 20-3 halftime deficit thanks to its imposing forward play, with lock Guido Petti and replacement hooker Julian Montoya punishing weak defence from a flagging France with easy tries after the break. Two penalties from Benjamin Urdapilleta gave Argentina a 21-20 lead, but Lopez replied one minute later to make it 23-21.
Argentina fullback Emiliano Boffelli missed a last-minute, 47-metre penalty attempt which would certainly have given his team victory.
Les Bleus had seemed in control after carving Argentina open with their running game during the first half, with center Gaël Fickou scoring a try on the left and scrumhalf Antoine Dupont touching down on the right.
First-five Romain Ntamack coolly converted both tries from difficult positions out wide, and slotted over two penalties to pad out the advantage. He missed a penalty attempt late in the match that could have given the French a five-point buffer.