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

Tomos Williams scores try Wales v Argentina ANS 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy
Tomos Williams scores try Wales v Argentina ANS 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy

Wales got their Autumn Nations Series campaign back on track with a hard-fought 20-13 victory over Argentina at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.

Wayne Pivac’s troops were well beaten by the All Blacks last weekend but delivered a much improved effort against Los Pumas and eventually outscored their visitors by two tries to one in a tighly contested affair.

Taulupe Faletau and Tomos Williams crossed the whitewash for the home side while their other points came via the boot of Gareth Anscombe, who succeeded with a penalty and two conversions, while Rhys Priestland also added a three-pointer off the kicking tee.

For Argentina, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro scored a try and Emiliano Boffelli slotted a conversion and two penalties.

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Argentina, recent conquerors of the All Blacks, England and Australia, were kept at bay by a defensive red wall as Michael Cheika’s men endured an evening to forget.

It was a welcome result for Wales head coach Pivac, who oversaw only a third win this year.

The South Americans could not reproduce the intensity and organisation that saw them defeat England at Twickenham six days ago.

Pivac made three personnel changes following that 55-23 defeat seven days ago, calling up wing Alex Cuthbert, prop Dillon Lewis and flanker Dan Lydiate.

Argentina, meanwhile, were without captain Julian Montoya due to a rib injury, so Agustin Creevy deputised at hooker and number eight Pablo Matera took over as skipper.

The Wales players wore black armbands in memory of Lydiate’s father John, who died last weekend.

Louis Rees-Zammit and wing Rio Dyer, a try-scorer on debut against New Zealand, were quickly involved in the action, but Argentina comfortably weathered early pressure and Boffelli kicked an eighth-minute penalty.

A second successful Boffelli penalty doubled Argentina’s advantage five minutes later, and Wales ended the opening quarter 6-0 behind.

Wales’ forwards grew into the contest and they should have opened their account after 27 minutes, but hooker Ken Owens spilled possession as he tried to burrow over Argentina’s line.

Lydiate then left the action a minute later, clutching his left wrist, and he was replaced by Jac Morgan, with Tipuric moving from openside to blindside.

Wales had territorial dominance and they were rewarded nine minutes before half-time when a powerful lineout drive ended with a try for Faletau on his 32nd birthday, and Anscombe’s successful conversion edged the home side ahead.

Anscombe kicked a 30-metre penalty as the interval approached, and it was a much-improved effort by Wales in the second quarter.

Argentina’s early momentum and control had disappeared, and Wales were good value for a 10-6 half-time lead.

Rees-Zammit, making just the third start of his career at full-back, continued to attack from deep and kept Argentina’s defence on red alert.

Crucial try

Wales extended their lead just seven minutes into the second period when Pumas full-back Juan Cruz Mallia’s attempted clearance was charged down by Williams, who then scored easily.

Anscombe’s conversion opened up an 11-point advantage, and Argentina needed to find a way back into the contest, but they could make little headway against a well-organised Welsh defence.

Pivac began making changes, sending on Priestland and centre Owen Watkin, but Wales did not help themselves when lock Will Rowlands was yellow-carded for a technical infringement.

Argentina could not capitalise on a temporary one-man advantage, though, and a Priestland penalty put Wales 14 points clear with 17 minutes remaining.

But the Pumas struck after Rowlands returned, driving a lineout inside Wales’ 22, and replacement prop Tetaz Chaparro touched down, with Boffelli’s conversion narrowing the gap to 20-13.

Wales, though, displayed admirable composure during the closing minutes, despite losing Rowlands to what appeared to be a serious arm injury, and Argentina could find no way back.

READ MORE: Autumn Nations Series: England ease to dominant victory over Japan at Twickenham

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