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Howard and Loffreda both see benefits

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Pat Howard says his players will have benefited from the experience of facing a strong Argentina line-up despite defeat in Sunday's PwC Challenge Cup meeting at Welford Road.

The Pumas, who fly home today after using the trip to England as part of their preparations for the autumn's Rugby World Cup, triumphed 41-21.

They scored five tries and showed a ruthlessness to go with their enterprise as fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez added three penalties and replacement Juan Fernandez Miranda a late drop goal.

Howard saw Tigers run in three converted tries in reply in front of an 11,000-strong crowd.

"From our perspective, it was a good trial for some of the guys and an opportunity to get game-time for some who have not played much rugby recently," said the Tigers head coach. "For the players, it is about taking the experience from a different style of game.

"I thought it was a pretty positive exercise. If players learn something from that then that is the big thing. It was a good exercise for individuals and it is a better way of showing you are a good player than on the training paddock.

"It was always going to be physical. Argentina are very physical at the breakdown and they are preparing for the World Cup, while we had a number of guys who had a reason to play and points to prove.

"I understand that 11 of those guys are in their first-choice team - that is a strong side they put out. It was certainly a good testing curve for our guys, especially those who have not played much rugby for a while."

A large home crowd cheered impressive Tigers tries from Tom Croft, Tom Varndell and Matt Smith, all converted by fly-half Sam Vesty.

Howard said: "We scored three decent tries from guys who are all pushing for those top places. There were some good performances in the team. Tom Croft played well, Gavin Hickie had a good hour up front, the scrum did well considering the guys we were missing there, Matt Cornwell was probably the pick of the backs and Matt Smith put some real pace into the game when he came on."

Argentina coach Marcelo Loffreda also enjoyed the experience, giving 22 players some game-time as he fine-tunes preparations for the World Cup, where his side share a group with France and Ireland.

"It has been very useful," he said. "We had some difficulties before the tour when we could not get some players, but we brought some replacements and they all did very well. One of the goals of this short tour was to see some of those players, which is part of the preparations for the World Cup, and test them."