France coach Jean Claude Skrela toasted his much maligned side tonight after they booked their place in the World Cup semi-finals. Skrela saw his men shake off a lacklustre start to the tournament that brought severe criticism from the French media to beat Argentina 47 - 26 at Lansdowne Road to earn a place in the semi-finals against the All-Blacks.
The French ran in five tries - two each by Xavier Garbajosa and Philippe Bernat-Salles and one from Emile Ntamack - and put down a brave and spirited challenge from the surprise quarter-finalists.
The French got off to a great start but at 17 - 0 maybe they got too euphoric and put a lot of pressure on themselves. Though that midweek victory over Ireland had taken every ounce of Argentine energy the resilient Pumas still had strength in reserve and fought tenaciously for 70 minutes before France cut loose.
Argentina received a standing ovation and did a lap of honour before leaving the Lansdowne Road pitch as the Dublin crowd forgave them for putting Ireland out of the World Cup at the play-off stage in Lens last week.
Star scrum-half Agustin Pichot, who received an individual ovation when he came off in injury time, said “It was a very nice gesture and something I'll remember for many years.”
Argentina coach Alex Wyllie added “I'm very pleased with the way we played. We put ourselves on the back foot by conceding 17 points so early. But we fought back and got close to them. Unfortunately three games in a week certainly told on us. But I couldn't ask any more of the players as a team and as individuals. I'm certainly very proud.”