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Heartland XV beaten 13-35 by Tucuman

NZPA     06 Nov 2006    

Once one of the most feared clubs in Argentina for their ferocious forward play, Tucuman beat the Heartland XV 35-13 after leading 16-6 at halftime.

First division champions in 2005 and runners-up this year in the Argentine club scene, Tucuman inflated their margin with a last-minute try when it was obvious the Heartland tank was running on empty.

"I can say the fulltime scores actually flattered Tucuman a bit, they got a try in the very last minute of the game otherwise it would have been a respectable score for us, really," the team's assistant coach Peter Russell told NZPA.

The heat and humidity drained the New Zealanders in the last quarter.

Heartland trailed 6-16 at halftime after Poverty Bay first five-eighth Scott Leighton kicked two penalties before Tucuman, with powerful forward driving play, scored again.

But the tries by the locals fell into the ordinary category in comparison with the Heartland's only five-pointer scored by North Otago winger Faaitu Tuamoheloa, who had even the local fans on their feet.

"Tucuman kicked to the corner from a penalty and there was a couple of knock-ons and scrums, we turned it over from their scrum on our own line, which was very pleasing, and then we ran it from our own goal line and scored at the other end -- a pretty good effort," Russell said.

"We had parity in the loose. Tucuman were reluctant to go to ground and scavenge the ball where we kept control with Peter Rowe (Wanganui) at the back (of the scrum).

"But we were very pleased with our set pieces for the first 60 minutes. It's tremendous heat here at the moment, 30-odd to 32 degrees and very humid because the place has just come out of three days of wet weather. The cloud went and the sun came out it was just so humid.

"We sort of faded off in the last 20 minutes of the game."

Heartland will go into their biggest game of the three-match tour on Sunday (NZ time) against Argentina A with a win and a loss record. They beat Salta 23-22 in their opening game.

Russell said five Tucuman players were in the Argentina A side for the match in Rosario.

Tucuman 35 Heartland 15 13 (Faaitu Tuamoheloa try; Scott Leighton 2 pen, con). Halftime: 16-6.