Rugby Union: Glas gains a happy return

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The Independent Online
STEPHANE GLAS, the Bourgoin centre who was 25 on Thursday, belatedly celebrated his birthday yesterday by scoring two fine tries as France made a solid but unspectacular start to their World Cup preparations with a hard-fought 34-14 win over Argentina in Nantes.

A French victory was not in doubt after they scored two tries late in the first half, but their convincing margin was only achieved by a burst of two tries in the last five minutes.

With the scores tied at 3-3 after an exchange of penalties between the fly-halves, David Aucagne and Lisandro Arbizu, the French scrum-half Philippe Carbonneau was fed by Aucagne in the 26th minute and sprinted 30 yards down the touchline to score in the corner.

Aucagne kicked a difficult conversion to put the Five Nations' champions 10-3 ahead and Glas extended the lead with his first try in the 39th minute when he charged through two tackles to score between the posts. The Pumas' No 8 Pablo Camerlinckx touched down just before half-time to make it 17- 8, but 12 minutes after the break Glas capped a brilliant five-pass move to run in his second try.

Even though Argentina dominated the second half in terms of possession, they had few try-scoring opportunities and conceded another try in the 87th minute to the replacement wing, Philippe Bernat-Salles.

With the last move of the match, France's other centre, Franck Comba, helped himself to his side's fifth try after an error by the Argentine backs. Despite their success, though, France will need to improve dramatically on Saturday when they meet Australia at the Stade de France in Paris.

Yesterday may have had a crowded international programme, but it was also busy on the domestic front with 15 third-round fixtures in the Tetley's Bitter Cup.

The 16-8 victory by Kendal, of National League Two North, away to Wakefield, of Premiership Two, was the upset of the round. The visitors made a mockery of the two-division gap between the sides from the moment their right wing, Justin Balmer, scored the first of his two tries on 15 minutes. After having the wind at their backs throughout the first half, the interval score of 5-5 meant that Wakefield were at an obvious disadvantage. And so it proved as Balmer went over again five minutes after the break and Casey Mee sealed a famous victory for Kendal, who reached the fifth round two years ago, with his second penalty in injury-time.

Sedgley Park, who beat Kendal in the league last weekend, joined them in tomorrow's fourth-round draw with a last-gasp 22-21 win at Blackheath. The bottom club in Premiership Two were leading by six points in injury time when the No 8 John Duncan barged over between the posts and Rob Moon supplied the decisive conversion. Earlier, the visitors' wing Paul Morris scored two tries.

Esher of National League Two South, who are unbeaten at home in the competition for two decades, produced a minor surprise when they saw off visitors Harrogate, a division higher in the pecking order, 42-17.

The highest score was Exeter's 81-11 thrashing of Whit-church in which their wings, Mark Woodman and Nick Osman, claimed three tries apiece.