Leigh Halfpenny kicked 14 points as Wales held on for a 24-20 win over Argentina in Cardiff on Saturday night. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Last weekend, Wales were hammered 32-8 by the Wallabies at the same venue, but they were much improved this time out against the Pumas.
Ultimately, this match was won and lost in a second half that ebbed and flowed one way and then the next, with Wales hanging on to a lead that they simply refused to relinquish.
The hosts headed into the second stanza with just a 6-3 lead, but all the momentum was on their side after finishing the first half with an emphatic flourish.
Wales would have been somewhat frustrated that they had been unable to turn pressure into points before the break, but they finally forged their way into a handy lead when winger Liam Williams showed great strength to score just after the restart.
It seemed as if Wales might pull away from there, but the two sides simply continued to trade blows. Juan Martín Hernández first dotted down for Argentina’s opening try, but this was quickly cancelled out when Wales scrumhalf Gareth Davies darted over to score.
Yet, Argentina hit back once again when opposite number Martín Landajo squirmed his way over the tryline to make it a one-point ball game after an hour of play.
With everything to play for, Halfpenny and Nicolás Sánchez traded penalties as the match hung in the balance heading into the final five minutes, but the former would add one final three-pointer before full time to ensure his side came away with the spoils.
Wales – Tries: Liam Williams, Gareth Davies. Conversion: Leigh Halfpenny. Penalties: Halfpenny (4).
Argentina – Tries: Juan Martín Hernández, Martín Landajo. Conversion: Nicolás Sánchez (2). Penalties: Sánchez (2).
Wales – 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sam Warburton, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Gethin Jenkins (c).
Subs: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Cory Hill, 20 James King, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Jamie Roberts.
Argentina – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Lucas Noguera.
Subs: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Leonardo Senatore, 20 Tomás Lezana, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Santiago Cordero.
Photo: Geoff Caddick/Getty Images