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Flashback: Pumas salute prop's service

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Los Pumas head to Welford Road on Saturday for only the second visit in their history - and for a second time they will be sharing in a special occasion for a Leicester Tigers front row hero.This weekend’s trip to Leicester is to honour prop Marcos Ayerza in his testimonial season at the club, while their previous encounter on their way to third place in the 2007 Rugby World Cup featured a final appearance for one of his most popular predecessors, Graham Rowntree.   Back in February 2007, Rowntree ran out for the 398th time in his 17-year club career and, in the words of the Tigers match report, “the reception he received gave an honest reflection of the esteem in which he is held by everyone at the club”. Argentina, under head coach Marcelo Loffreda, scored five tries in an entertaining 41-21 victory in front of an appreciative 11,000-strong crowd.   Tigers tries came from Tom Croft, Tom Varndell and Matt Smith.   Croft supplied an electrifying 30-metre finish after scrum-half Scott Bemand had broken through just inside the Argentine half, side-stepping his way through and diving underneath the uprights as Tigers trailed 22-7 at half-time. A clever break from centre Matt Cornwell created an overlap for the second score, with Sam Vesty feeding wing Varndell to score just a metre in from the left-hand corner.   And Tigers had the final say as Smith hacked through after teenager Ben Youngs had capitalised on turnover ball on his own 10-metre line. Smith kicked on twice to claim a great individual score.   Vesty kicked the extra points from in front of the posts to leave the final score at 41-21 to an Argentinean side sitting sixth in the world rankings. But the biggest cheer followed as Rowntree received a standing ovation upon receiving the man-of-the-match award.   The England and Lions international prop said: "I was delighted to be given the opportunity to run out in front of the team and see the fans who have been so loyal to me here. "I got a very nice reception. The club means a lot to me. This was like signing off, but I am not leaving, I am coaching here and I am enjoying that." Rowntree made his Leicester debut in October 1990 and played in five championship-winning teams, four domestic cup finals and three European Cup finals. He stands sixth on the club's all-time appearances list. He also gained 54 caps for England and played two Tests for the British & Irish Lions. The Pumas return this Saturday to acknowledge another front-row hero in the Marcos Ayerza Testimonial Challenge and tickets are available now. Book in advance at the Tigers Club Store (9am-5pm weekdays) or phone 0116 319 8888 (8.30am-5pm weekdays), or at the ticket office in the plaza area outside the MET-Rx Stand on Saturday.   Or click here to book online any time.   Please note this fixture is not included in season tickets.