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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 on Sunday (AEST), 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 flew 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).
Argentina: 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).
Head Coach: Santiago Phelan
NSW Barbarians: 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.
Head Coach: Michael Cheika
2 mins - Horacio Agulla (A) try, Juan Martín Hernández (A) con
5 mins - Sekope Kepu (NSWB) try
26 mins- Juan Martín Hernández (A) penalty goal
40 mins - Sekope Kepu (NSWB) try, Brendan McKibbin (NSWB) con
Half-time: Argentina 10 – NSW Barbarians 12
46mins - Peter Betham (NSWB) try
55 mins - Juan Martín Hernández (A) penalty goal
60 mins - Drew Mitchell (NSWB) try, Bernard Foley (NSWB) con
63 mins - Agustín Creevy (A) try
66 mins - Agustín Creevy (A) try
75 mins - Nicolás Sánchez (A) penalty goal
77 mins - Bernard Foley (NSWB) penalty goal
80 mins - Nicolás Sánchez (A) penalty goal
Final Score: Argentina 29 – NSW Barbarians 27
Venue: La Plata Rugby Club.
Weather: Cold, 9°C, Relative Humidity 90%. Wind 3 Km/h
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (UAR)
AR1: Juan Hernán Sylvestre (UAR) AR2: Joaquín Otaño (UAR).
TMO: Javier Mancuso (UAR).