Argentina 'A' edge out England
June 17, 2002
England lost the opening game of their tour of Argentina, going down narrowly 29-24 to the Pumas' 'A' team at the Buenos Aries Cricket and Rugby Club.
England out-scored their hosts 3-2 on tries - Sale wing Mark Cueto, Northampton prop Robbie Morris and Newcastle fly-half Dave Walder touching down - but they were undone by Gonzalo Quesada's kicking.
Quesada, top scorer in the 1999 World Cup, booted three penalties, a drop goal and two conversions before going off midway through the second period.
Argentina grabbed both their tries in the first half - number eight Pablo Bouza and centre Diego Giannantonio scoring - and never really surrendered the initiative.
England boss Clive Woodward paraded six capped players in his starting XV, but only Cueto made a serious challenge for Test recognition against Argentina at Velez Sarsfield next Saturday.
Argentina A, who were thrashed 58-17 by England on the same ground five years ago, struck first after just six minutes when Bouza showed great strength to power over from 15 metres.
Quesada converted, but England drew level just seven minutes later when Cueto showcased his attacking adventure by completing a move that started inside the tourists' half.
Walder added the extra points, before Argentina made decisive strides through a Gian Antonio try, Quesada conversion and 30 metre drop goal.
England briefly lost full-back Tom Beim and number eight Pete Anglesea for blood injuries, and Quesada's first penalty put them further behind.
Morris gave them hope with a try nine minutes before the break as England changed ends 20-14 adrift.
Quesada and Walder exchanged penalties early in the second half before England grabbed the lead - albeit for just two minutes when Walder weaved his way over after Leicester back-row man Adam Balding stretched Argentina's defence.
Walder converted, but penalties from Quesada and substitute Juan Fernandez-Miranda saw Argentina home.
Balding was sin-binned in the 71st minute for killing the ball, and although England had plenty of possession, they could not finish off and, more importantly, could not give the dangerous Cueto more than one pass during the entire second period.
Argentina A: 29