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Opening run gives Tigers base to build on

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Richard Cockerill says Leicester Tigers coaches and players can take a lot out of the first pre-season run-out against Los Pumas on Saturday.Tigers scored four tries in a 55-34 defeat by an Argentina side in their final preparations for the Rugby World Cup.   Arranged as part of Marcos Ayerza’s testimonial year, the fixture allowed Cockerill and head coach Aaron Mauger to run the rule over the Tigers squad, including new signings and a number of youngsters.   “I’m pleased we kept ourselves in the battle when it could have got away from us in the first half,” said director of rugby Cockerill. “But we found a way to stay in it, we scored a nice try with the forwards before half-time and we made a good battle out of it.   “It’s a start for us and it was about seeing where we are. There is a lot of work to do but I’m really pleased for the young fellas. They did really well, it’s a great experience for them and we need them to learn their lessons from today.   "The new guys came in and did well – Mike Fitzgerald was very good, Lachie McCaffrey made a solid debut, Peter Betham showed some nice touches – and we’ll keep working in the build-up to the first game of the season   “The Pumas are a fantastic side and they will cause a few problems at the World Cup. We struggled at times with the scrum, but Australia, South Africa and New Zealand have done that at times against the Pumas so there’s no shame in it. All those young front rows – Pasquali, Brugnara, Thacker, Owen Hills – they all came in, they are all learning against some of the best in the world there.   “We’ve got something to build on now. It gives us something to work from.”   The Tigers tries were scored by prop Riccardo Brugnara, hooker Harry Thacker, fly-half Freddie Burns and a spectacular solo effort from academy wing Paolo Odogwu as they cut the deficit to 34-38 with just 10 minutes remaining. The Pumas had the last word, however, with three late scores of their own.   “Paolo’s try was as good as you will see from a young wing,” said Cockerill. “He’s come through our system at the academy, he’s had a first opportunity today and he has taken his try very well. Finishing from 60 metres on your debut is a good start!”   Ayerza played for the Pumas in the first half and emerged as a late replacement for the Tigers, to the biggest cheer of the day.   “Marcos is a fantastic player, one of the world’s best props,” said Cockerill. “He’s a true gentleman, he’s a one-club man, he loves his rugby and Leicester Tigers. I have nothing but admiration for him.   “He was very emotional at the end, he prides himself on his family and his rugby, and Leicester is part of his extended family now. You like to see that emotional attachment with the club, I think that is important.”