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RWC: Pumas blitz hosts with emotional performance.
« on: October 20, 2007, 10:43:22 AM »

Pumas blitz hosts with emotional performance

Puma joy: Argentina's Patricio Albacete celebrates

PARIS, 20 October - Argentina played their best match of the tournament to beat France 34-10 and secure the bronze medal, making history with their best ever world cup result.

The Pumas showed they are more than a team of hard-nosed forwards, proving they deserve all the plaudits handed to them over the past two months.

Argentina scored five tries to France's one, putting away their kicking game and finding more open space.

Argentina's head coach Marcelo Loffreda beamed with pride when explaining his reaction to his team's performance.

"I am feeling such great happiness, this whole week was going to be really difficult for us but the players equipped themselves well. Today they played an incredible game, from a technical point of view every aspect was spot on," he said.

"I am so proud, grateful, to all of them for the eight years we have spent together and especially with the captain (Agustín Pichot) who has allowed me to spend a spectacular time with him."

Painful end for hosts

France, for all their efforts, were undone by a lack of presence at the breakdown.

French captain Raphaël Ibanez said his team became frustrated with Argentina's play around the ruck, which was aimed at slowing the ball down.

He said this led to frustration and ill discipline, especially in the first half.

"We want the match to be controlled as much as possible, it was not the case, especially around the ruck.

"The (Argentina) players were lying on the ball and we lost our composure a bit. I don't condone this but frankly, after a while, we had to react."

French coach Bernard Laporte conceded his team could not match Argentina, and rued their missed opportunities.

"The best one won. They've won twice against us and shown they are better than us and finished third," he said.

"In the first 30 minutes we dominated but we made mistakes. They took advantage of them and scored tries.

"We tried to get back into the game but couldn't."

End of an era

With both teams bidding farewell to many of their veteran stars it was an emotional finish.

Several of the Argentina players almost had to be dragged off the pitch as they thanked their fans and celebrated.

Pichot, playing in his last cup match, explained what the moment meant to him.

"You cannot give much more than this. Psychologically, with heart, with spirit - I am not a very talented footballer, but in the last eight years I gave everything," he said.

"It's the end of a great period with the Argentina jersey on.

"Today has been the end of the best team I have ever been part of in sport."

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