Argentina's Pumas kicked off their preparations for the Rugby Championship with a last gasp 29-27 victory over a New South Wales Barbarians team at La Plata Rugby Club.
A last-minute penalty goal was all that separated the NSW Barbarians from an experienced Argentina side in the teams’ first encounter in La Planta, with the Pumas snatching victory with the last kick despite being outscored by four tries to three.
Two Sekope Kepu tries at either end of the first half gave the visitors a two-point advantage going into the break.
That lead was extended just six minutes into the second period when wing Peter Betham crossed for NSW’s third try.
When fullback Drew Mitchell added another on the 60 minute mark, Michael Cheika’s inexperienced NSW side looked like taking a big scalp against a fully-capped Test outfit, before two tries within four minutes from replacement hooker Agustín Creevy put the home side right back in the contest.
With Nicolás Sánchez and Bernard Foley exchanging penalty goals in the closing 10 minutes, the NSW Barbarians led by a single point going into the final seconds but a last-gasp Sánchez penalty right on the siren eventually seales the win for the home side.
Despite the loss, the NSW squad can be exceptionally pleased with their performance, pushing their vastly more experience Test opponents all the way, outscoring them by four tries to three and dominating possession for long stretches of the game.
Having gained valuable experience from playing against their Rugby Championship opponents, NSW’s international contingent today fly back to Australia to join the Wallabies training camp.
The remaining Baa-Baas squad members will get another crack at the opposition when the two sides meet again on Friday August 9 at Estadio Padre Martearena in Salta (kick off 8.10pm local time).
Final Score Argentina 29 (10) NSW Barbarians 27 (12)
Tries : Horacio Agulla , Agustín Creevy 2
Pen : Juan Martín Hernández 2, Nicolás Sánchez 2
Con : Juan Martín Hernández
Tries : Sekope Kepu 2, Peter Betham ,Drew Mitchell
Pen : Bernard Foley
Con :Brendan McKibbin ,Bernard Foley
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (UAR)
AR1: Juan Hernán Sylvestre (UAR) AR2: Joaquín Otaño (UAR).
TMO: Javier Mancuso (UAR).
1. Marcos Ayerza, 2. Eusebio Guiñazú, 3. Juan Figallo; 4. Manuel Carizza, 5. Mariano Galarza; 6. Juan Martin Fernández Lobbe, 7 Pablo Matera, 8. Leonardo Senatore; 9. Martin Landajo, 10. Juan Martin Hernández; 11. Horacio Agulla, 12. Santiago Fernández, 13. Gonzalo Tiesi, 14. Gonzalo Camacho; 15. Martín Rodríguez.
Replacements: 37 mins - Bruno Postiglioni (Marcos Ayerza); 40 mins - Agustín Creevy (Eusebio Guiñazú), Juan Manuel Leguizamón (Pablo Matera), Marcelo Bosch (Gonzalo Tiesi), Juan Imhoff (Gonzalo Camacho) and Joaquín Tuculet (Martín Rodríguez); 50 mins - Matías Díaz (Juan Figallo), Tomás Cubelli (Martín Landajo), Felipe Contepomi (Santiago Fernández) and Lucas González Amorosino (Horacio Agulla); 64 mins - Benjamín Macome (Leonardo Senatore) and Tomás Lavanini (Manuel Carizza); 67 mins - Nicolás Sánchez (Juan Martín Hernández).
1. Sekope Kepu (Randwick), 2.Tolu Latu (Sydney University), 3. Paddy Ryan (Sydney University), 4. Will Skelton (Sydney University), 5. Mitchell Chapman (Eastern Suburbs), 6. Jed Holloway (Southern Districts), 7. Pat McCutcheon (Sydney University), 8. Dave Dennis (Sydney University, captain), 9. Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs), 10. Bernard Foley (Sydney University), 11. Peter Betham (Sydney University), 12. Rob Horne (Southern Districts), 13. Usaia O'Sullivan (West Harbour), 14. Cam Crawford (Northern Suburbs), 15. Drew Mitchell (Randwick)
Replacements: 50 mins - Luke Holmes (Tolu Latu) and Tala Gray (Mitchell Chapman); 60 mins - David Lolohea (Paddy Ryan); 64 mins - Matt Lucas (Brendan McKibbin); 67 mins - Ben Volavola (Drew Mitchell); 69 mins - Michael McDougall (Rob Horne)Not used: 17. Jeremy Tilse, 18. Sam Talaka, 19. Keliti Vangalo, 28. Jack Dempsey, 23. David Horwitz, 22. Alofa Alofa, 25. Alex Gibbon.