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Pumas level England series

ARGENTINA scored two tries, one early on in each half, for a narrow 24-22 win over England in the second test to level their series on Saturday.

Flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon grabbed the first in the opening five minutes and three penalties by flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez gave Argentina a 14-3 lead at the interval following Andy Goode's solitary reply from a penalty at Padre Martearena Stadium in Salta, Argentina.

Wing Gonzalo Camacho ran in the second try two minutes into the second half after a Pumas break from deep in their own half, but further penalties by Goode brought the visitors back into it.

His fifth put England within reach of turning the match at 21-15 but Hernandez restored Argentina's nine-point lead with a drop goal before a sweeping late attack brought England's Matt Banahan his try.

The result means Argentina will regain fifth place in the world rankings when they are released today after losing the spot to England when beaten 15-37 in the first test in Manchester a week ago.

England manager Martin Johnson said Argentina's halftime lead was manageable but the Pumas' try right after the break gave his team a huge task. "It really comes down to that second-half try, from 35 meters. You really shouldn't concede tries like that. They took it well, but we shouldn't have allowed it," he said.

Pumas captain Juan Fernandez Lobbe said Argentina's improved discipline had been a big factor after an error-riddled performance in its loss in Manchester. "Technically, we cleaned up our delivery in the rucks."

Meanwhile, Ian McGeechan's team has five wins in five games yet, with the first test only a week away, the British Lions coach still won't give any clues about the starting lineup to face South Africa.

Asked whether back row Martyn Williams pressed his selection claims by scoring a try on his return from a shoulder injury, McGeechan replied: "Not bad for an old man. Like the guy sitting next to me (prop Phil Vickery)."

Williams and Vickery are only on the fringe of the starting lineup even though Wales back row Williams is fit again and tighthead Vickery was captain of the team that beat Western Province 26-23 in Cape Town on Saturday to stretch the winning streak in warmup games.

Ireland winger Tommy Bowe seems a certain selection after scoring his fourth try of the tour and setting up another for Ugo Monye.

"He's playing well," McGeechan said. "He's a very strong runner."

Still, no confirmation that Bowe will be starting next weekend.

In McGeechan's thoughts, they are only three of 37 players who could be running out at the start of Saturday's first test in Durban.


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