Autumn Nations Series: Five takeaways from Wales v Argentina as Wayne Pivac’s men outmuscle Los Pumas

Louis Rees-Zammit Wales v Argentina ANS 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy
Louis Rees-Zammit Wales v Argentina ANS 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy

Following a 20-13 victory for Wales over Argentina in their Autumn Nations Series fixture, here’s our five takeaways from the match at the Principality Stadium.

Louis Rees-Zammit experiment worth persisting with

Seeing the Gloucester flyer line up at full-back was a surprise but it showed enough promise to suggest it could become permanent. With Josh Adams still to come back, Rio Dyer doing well in his first two Tests and Alex Cuthbert rejuvenated, Wales have a plethora of quality wings, so it makes sense to try one of them at 15.

Rees-Zammit is their most potent attacker and by putting him at full-back, it gives him the ball more often. That paid dividends in the opening exchanges as he received the ball and scythed through the Argentine defence. Of course, the basics will need to be improved and the 21-year-old will undoubtedly face bigger challenges in the future, but on Saturday he was positionally sound and generally made the right decisions in possession.

Argentina lose the kicking game

Argentina tried to put the onus on Wales, often kicking long, but the hosts simply replied in kind and the end result tended to be a mistake from the South Americans. Although the visitors started well, Wayne Pivac’s men gradually got on top and applied a lot of pressure in the second quarter. The Welsh showed much more variety with their kicks in comparison to their opponents and they deservedly opened up a 14-point lead at one stage.

They obviously wanted to test Rees-Zammit, as well as what was a new back three combination, but Los Pumas struggled to put them under pressure. It was a tactic which ultimately proved costly when Juan Cruz Mallia was charged down by Tomos Williams for what was the decisive score. They were poor in a few facets in Cardiff and that was one of them.

Wales ill-discipline almost costs them

Although Wales were deserved winners, they nearly came up short as their discipline let them down during the latter stages of the second half when Argentina were chasing the game. With the score 20-6 in their favour, the home side conceded several penalties on defence and one of those, in the 56th minute, resulted in Will Rowlands being yellow carded for a professional foul.

Although Los Pumas did not score any points during Rowlands’ stint off the field, the Welsh were still conceding penalties and one of those saw the visitors kicking for touch and they were soon rewarded when Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro crashed over for a try after they launched a lineout drive from the resulting penalty. There were some nervy moments for the hosts in the game’s closing stages as they were blown up again but they managed to hold on for the win.

Improved physicality helps Wales set up victory

One of the primary reasons for Wales’ heavy defeat against the All Blacks last weekend was that they came up short in the physicality stakes, but it was a different story against Argentina as, especially their forwards, came to the fore with a much improved effort in that department. The likes of Rowlands, Ken Owens and Taulupe Faletau took the fight to their opponents with the rest of their pack not far behind. Rowlands was at the forefront of that onslaught and there was some panic in Welsh ranks when he was sent to the sin bin.

Despite that setback, Pivac’s troops stood up manfully as the Pumas upped the ante on attack, although Wales were still winning the collisions which forced the South Americans into errors. Rowlands returned to action and continued where he left off with his excellent physicality, before leaving the field with what looked like a serious injury in the game’s latter stages but the job was done and Wales finished with a deserved win.

Argentina look tired after long, and history-making, season

Los Pumas did superbly well to eke out a win against England, despite spending much of that encounter without the ball, but that game, as well as their exertions in the Rugby Championship, seems to have caught up with them. Wales were physical and abrasive, but Argentina were lethargic and made far too many errors both with and without the ball.

This loss doesn’t downplay what they have achieved in 2022, however, which includes a record victory over Australia and a first win over the All Blacks in New Zealand. They have made significant progress under new head coach Michael Cheika, foundations which should serve them well in 2023. There’s just one more match to go and hopefully they can produce a big effort to do justice to the progress they have made this year.

READ MORE: Autumn Nations Series: Wales hold off Argentina to return to winning ways

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