Argentina spoil Rowntree’s farewell party

Leicester Tigers fans waved goodbye to club legend Graham Rowntree at Welford Road and extended a warm welcome to Marcelo Loffreda as Argentina won 21-41 against the Tigers.


Rowntree ended his playing career with the club he joined 19 years ago with his 398th appearance and the 35-year-old loose head prop will concentrate on a coaching role.


He could be joined next season by current Argentina coach Loffreda.


Loffreda has met Leicester officials to discuss the head coach’s post that will become vacant at the end of the season when Pat Howard returns to Australia to run his family business and said he is set for further talks.


Loffreda has masterminded Argentina’s resurgence since taking on the role in April 2000, that includes the historic win at Twickenham last November and the Pumas completed a successful tour with a five-try thumping of Leicester.


They ran in three tries in the opening quarter to set up a convincing win.


Fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez was the only player in Argentina’s starting fifteen at Welford Road that played in the historic win against England and Leicester handed debuts to second row Gregor Gillanders and flanker Alex Shaw.


The game also marked the return to Leicester of Tigers legend Les Cusworth, who is the Pumas director of rugby.


Hernandez was the architect of the opening try at Leicester with a grubber kick that Ignacio Corleto picked up to cross after seven minutes.


Hernandez coolly added the extras from near the right hand touchline.


The Pumas added a second try after 15 minutes with Rimas Alvarez stepping over from close range and Hernandez’s conversion made it 14-0.


Argentina grabbed their third try inside the opening quarter with 18 minutes gone when Corleto crossed after Lucas Borges had kicked through.


Hernandez missed the conversion, but made amends with a 27th-minute penalty that opened up a 22-0 lead.


Leicester got their first points on the board in the 37th minute. Scrum-half Scott Bemand made the break, but Tom Croft still had plenty to do when he received his pass 20 metres from the line.


Croft showed good footwork to weave past a couple of challenges and plunge over between the posts.


Sam Vesty kicked the conversion to reduce the gap 22-7 at the break.


Pumas winger Martin Gaitan scorched through several tackles for a stunning solo try two minutes after the restart that Hernandez failed to convert, but the fly-half kicked a 48th-minute penalty to open up a 30-7 lead.


Hernandez added another penalty 10 minutes later and the visitors added a fifth try in the 69th minute through Lucas Borges with Hernandez then missing.


Tom Varndell restored some pride for Leicester with a 73rd-minute try that Vesty converted to make it 38-14.


Juan Hernandez Miranda kicked a 78th-minute drop goal before Tigers had the final word in the dying moments.


Matt Smith hacked the ball on and galloped 70metres to the line for a try that Vesty converted.


365 Digital

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