A Teddy Thomas brace ensured France got back to winning ways after a five-match losing run with a 28-13 victory against Argentina at Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille.
Argentina took the lead with a try from Ramiro Moyano but tries from Thomas either side of half-time and another score from captain Guilhem Guirado sealed a vital victory.
The Pumas enjoyed a dream start as Moyano raced across the whitewash after just two minutes to give the visitors an early lead, with Nicolas Sanchez adding the extras.
Les Bleus responded moments later when Baptiste Serin converted a penalty, but it was almost instantly cancelled out by another three points from the boot of Sanchez.
As the first half wore on, France began to exert more pressure on Argentina and Serin came close to scoring the hosts’ first try when he darted down the blindside only to be stopped by Sanchez.
They were much more clinical with their next attack, though, which started with a lineout just inside the Argentina half and ended with Teddy Thomas dotting down in the right corner.
It was a breathless backline move which included a direct run from Yoann Huget, before Benjamin Fall took over and spread the ball wide to Thomas to race over the whitewash.
Serin’s conversion attempt from out wide was off target, but he made amends quickly with a penalty to give Les Bleus the lead for the first time just past the half-hour mark.
France went into the break 11-10 ahead but found themselves behind again soon after the restart when Sanchez landed another penalty on 46 minutes.
Their lead did not last long, though, with another rapid move from the French backline ending in another Thomas try as he ran in following a huge pass out wide from Gaël Fickou.
Serin added the conversion this time before converting a further three points to extend Les Bleus’ advantage to beyond a converted score with less than 15 minutes left on the clock.
Mathieu Bastareaud caused havoc throughout the game for the hosts and his powerful runs against the tiring Pumas helped Les Bleus take control in the final quarter.
A sloppy Argentina lineout then allowed France to make sure there would be no nervy finale as Guirado pounced on the loose ball and dived over the whitewash.
PLAYER WATCH – Teddy Thomas
In a game in which France were far from their best, Teddy Thomas proved the difference as he provided finishing touches twice to see the hosts over the line.
He is box office every time he receives the ball and duly delivered on 25 minutes when he raced over in the corner following excellent work from Yoann Huget and Benjamin Fall.
Thomas’ second owed much to the fabulous long pass from Gaël Fickou, which found him in acres of space and allowed the Racing 92 winger to dart over the whitewash with ease.
Argentina came out of the blocks firing and left France stunned with their early try, but the classy opening score from the hosts gave them confidence to take control.
It started with an excellent lineout win on the left of the pitch, before the ball was spread out wide to Yoann Huget, who drove at the Argentina defence with a brazenly direct run.
From there, it was all about how fast France could get the ball into space and Benjamin Fall duly delivered to put Thomas in the corner for his first try of the game.
– France made 91 tackles and missed 10, while Argentina made 60 from 85 attempts – Teddy Thomas ran 80 metres with the ball and beat three defenders – Les Bleus were almost faultless from the set piece with 8/8 scrums won and 9/10 lineouts