* Senatore handed seven-match ban for biting offence
* Argentina team mate Matera found not guilty of eye-gouging (Releads after second decision, adds byline)
By Mark Gleeson
CAPE TOWN, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Argentina loose forward Leonardo Senatore was banned for seven matches on Thursday after being found guilty of biting South Africa lock Eben Etzebeth during last Saturday’s test.
It means he misses the rest of the Rugby Championship and three matches for his English club Worcester Warriors from now until Oct. 28.
Earlier in the day, team mate Pablo Matera had been found not guilty of allegations of eye-gouging during the same match.
The pair had been cited after a feisty encounter in Mendoza, where South Africa squeezed out a 22-17 triumph.
Separate hearings found the 29-year-old Senatore guilty of contravening laws on “good sportsmanship” but Matera was cleared.
A judicial hearing heard evidence from two doctors, the referee Steve Walsh and Senatore himself and decided he had bitten on the forearm of Etzebeth in the second half of the test.
A reduced punishment was decided after judicial officer Terry Willis found Senatore had an unblemished record in 19 tests for Argentina and that there had been provocation from Etzebeth.
“In the absence of any aggravating feature and significant mitigating factors, it was determined that a seven-match suspension was appropriate in the circumstance,” a SANZAR statement said.
The International Rugby Board’s minimum ban for players found guilty of biting is 12 weeks.
The 20-year-old Matera was cited after accusations by Springbok flanker Francois Louw but his case had a different outcome.
“The judicial officer was not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that there was contact with the eyes or eye gouging such as to constitute a breach of the laws of the game of rugby,” SANZAR said.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ed Osmond and Sonia Oxley