But only one match remains in which to take the temperature of the northern-hemisphere sides' World Cup warm-ups: Ireland v England
in Dublin next Saturday. After that it is the big one. Hope today whetted your appetite, see you back here very soon.
Elsewhere today South Africa may have sowed a few doubts in the minds of perennial pre-World Cup favourites New Zealand with an 18-5 win in their Tri Nations meeting in Port Elizabeth. McCaw and Carter were absent, but South Africa have a habit of brewing up big when the silverware is offer.
Ireland head coach Declan Kidney
tells BBC Two: "The result is extremely disappointing but we need to learn from it. I'm not trying to get round it, the score was what it was, but some of the things we were working, particularly the set-pieces, were better.
Shaun McWilliam on Twitter:
"That's a nice comfortable win for Scotland before the World Cup. I think they have a chance of going far this time round"
I have just caught sight of former Scotland international Doddie Weir's sublime tartan jacket on the BBC's Red Button coverage. An absolute blinder in several senses. Centre Nick De Luca
accepts the bottle of bubbly for his man of the match performance.
Former Ireland hooker Keith Wood on BBC Two: "I think Ireland are better than that. They compounded mistake on mistake."
1849: FULL-TIME: SCOTLAND 23-12 ITALY
1849: FULL-TIME: IRELAND 22-26 FRANCE
The last play of the match and it serves up a deserved try for Sean O'Brien.
Popped the ball five metres out, the flanker gets his head down and powers through some tired French defenders. O'Gara
pops over the conversion before referee Craig Joubert calls it to an end.
1843: CONVERSION: IRELAND 22-26 FRANCE 1843: TRY: IRELAND 20-26 FRANCE
That Scottish sucker punch seems to have deflated the Italians, but out of nowhere a little contretemps flares with Bergamasco ill-advisedly squaring up to prop Moray Low. All posture, no purpose however.
Probably too little too late, but an enjoyable consolation at the least for Ireland. Luke Fitzgerald scoops up from the back of a ruck and bursts clear of the French backline. He steps inside before but is dragged down just short. The unlikely figure of Ronan O'Gara is there to ruck over though and Jonathan Sexton
barges over to take the ball through the final yard. O'Gara
clips over the conversion.
1834: CONVERSION: IRELAND 15-26 FRANCE 1834: TRY: IRELAND 13-26 FRANCE 1831:
Ouch. Felix Jones
is carted off one of those little electric blood wagons with a foot injury. The pain is mostly emotional though judging by his disconsolate face. His World Cup hopes may well be over.
Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris, on the comeback trail after injury, is also involved off the bench.
Ronan O'Gara is off the bench for Ireland, with Gordan D'Arcy making way and Jonathan Sexton shunted out into midfield.
At Murrayfield, Dan Parks
takes on a penalty from a tricky touchline position but this time it proves beyond him. Over in Dublin, prop Cian Healy
has limped out of the fray and down the tunnel. The final quarter of an hour in both contests now.
An Italian infringement is punished by Parks'
boot and Scotland seem to have snuffed out the visitors' hopes of a comeback before they had even properly caught alight.
1818: PENALTY: SCOTLAND 23-12 ITALY
An immediate response from Semenzato's opposite number Mike Blair
. The Edinburgh man charges down full-back's Andrea Masi's kick and dives on the ball as it bobbles invitingly beyond the Italian line. Parks
does the business from the tee.
1815: CONVERSION: SCOTLAND 20-12 ITALY 1814: TRY: SCOTLAND 18-12 ITALY
Scrum-half Fabio Semenzato
puts Italy within reach although Mirco Bergamasco squanders the chance to take the lead with a fluffed conversion.
1811: TRY: SCOTLAND 13-12 ITALY
A gift for the French and Francois Trinh-Duc
as Jamie Heaslip picks from the base of a scrum but passes behind Tomas O'Leary. The scrum-half gathers the loose ball but his looping pass is pouched by Trinh-Duc before it reaches its intended target of Jonathan Sexton. And it is a stroll in under the sticks from there. Parra
is reliable as ever with the conversion.
1806: CONVERSION: IRELAND 8-26 FRANCE 1806: TRY: IRELAND 8-24 FRANCE 1805:
A few niggles affecting key members of the Irish team that Declan Kidney and his support staff will be keeping a keen eye on: Brian O'Driscoll is stretching his arm out while Cian Healy is also in the wars.
Another gloriously lazy swing of the boot and another three points from Morgan Parra.
Ireland need something to spark a comeback and soon. Scotland and Italy have also restarted at Murrayfield.
1800: PENALTY: IRELAND 8-19 FRANCE 1759:
Hostilities resume between Ireland and France in Dublin and the dangerous Palisson
is only a lucky bounce away from gathering his own chip ahead with the Ireland line looming.
Former Ireland hooker Keith Wood
on BBC Two: "Ireland need to go and play the way they did in the first 15 minutes and cut out the simple errors. They need leadership and some of the guys who have to provide that are playing their first game in some time today."
Over the other side of the world in Port Elizabeth, South Africa are on the brink of a head-turning win. They lead the All-Blacks 18-5 with 10 minutes left on the clock.
1751: HALF-TIME: SCOTLAND 13-7 ITALY 1750:
Fly-half Dan Parks
gives the Scots a little more breathing space with a regulation penalty before heading for the tunnel and Andy Robinson's instructions.
1747: PENALTY: SCOTLAND 13-7 ITALY 1747:
Italy have a chance to draw level, but Mirco Bergamasco's
penalty effort drops wide of the target.
1744: HALF-TIME: IRELAND 8-16 FRANCE 1744:
Number nine Morgan Parra
lovingly strokes a penalty over from the angle and, after the early Irish storm, France have set the hosts an imposing test for the second half.
1742: PENALTY: IRELAND 8-16 FRANCE
A sweetly-struck drop-goal from Francois Trinh-Duc
, on for the injured David Skrela, is followed by a try from Cedric Heymans.
The full-back is slipped in by centre Aurelien Rougerie with Brian O'Driscoll and Gordan D'Arcy left asking questions about the large midfield hole the pair galloped through. Morgan Parra
chips over the conversion.
1735: CONVERSION: IRELAND 8-13 FRANCE 1734: TRY: IRELAND 8-11 FRANCE 1732: DROP-GOAL: IRELAND 8-6 FRANCE
Winger Tommaso Benvenuti
scoots in for Italy before Mirco Bergamaso
decorates his score with a bonus two.
1730: CONVERSION: SCOTLAND 10-7 ITALY 1730: TRY: SCOTLAND 10-5 ITALY 1730:
Scrum-half Morgan Parra
slots to get the French off the mark.
1729: PENALTY: IRELAND 8-3 FRANCE 1728:
France winger Alexis Palisson jags his way to within striking distance, but Felix Jones scampers across to snuff out the danger with a great cover tackle.
Italian slaps of congratulation to the extravagant mane of prop Martin Castrogiovanni as he and his front-row colleagues see off the danger for the visitors.
Number eight Richie Vernon is within a bootlace of breaking through the Italy backline. A penalty follows for the Scots, but Parks turns down the chance to kick for goal and sticks it down in the corner instead. A statement of intent from the hosts.
The front-row union dominate over the Irish Sea in Edinburgh as well. Alasdair Dickinson
of Sale gets his hands on the ball as the flaky Italy defence runs out of numbers. The prop gleefully crashes down before Dan Parks
adds another two points.
1715: CONVERSION: SCOTLAND 10-0 ITALY 1714: TRY: SCOTLAND 8-0 ITALY
Ireland prop Cian Healy
ploughs through scrum-half Morgan Parra in a mis-matched individual battle on the French line. Sexton
narrowly misses with the conversion.
1712: TRY: IRELAND 8-0 FRANCE 1711:
Ireland have made a frenzied start. Sean O'Brien rampages deep into the French half, before Paul O'Connell thumps into the defence.
Fly-halves Jonathan Sexton
and Dan Parks
both land penalties to eke out early leads for Ireland and Scotland respectively.
1706: PENALTY: SCOTLAND 3-0 ITALY 1705: PENALTY: IRELAND 3-0 FRANCE
Referee Craig Joubert peeps to allow a white-shirted France to get the game underway in Dublin. The Scots, also sparkling in their away kit, are 30 seconds behind in the Murrayfield sun.
And from Edinburgh:Scotland:
Rory Lamont (Toulon), Max Evans (Castres), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh), Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), Simon Danielli (Ulster), Dan Parks (Cardiff Blues), Mike Blair (Edinburgh); Alasdair Dickinson (Sale Sharks), Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Nathan Hines (Clermont Auvergne), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Kelly Brown (Saracens), John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), Richie Vernon (Sale Sharks) Replacements: Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), Euan Murray (Newcastle Falcons), Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Ross Rennie (Edinburgh), Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Nikki Walker (Ospreys) Italy:
A Masi; T Benvenuti, G Canale, G Garcia, M Bergamasco; L Orquera, F Semenzato; A Lo Cicero, L Ghiraldini, M Castrogiovanni, C Del Fava, C van Zyl, P Derbyshire, R Barbieri, S Parisse (capt). Replacements: T D'Apice, L Cittadini, M Bortolami, A Zanni, P Canavosio, R Bocchino, M Pratichetti.
The team news, first from the Aviva Stadium:Ireland
: F Jones (Munster); A Trimble (Ulster), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), G D'Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster); J Sexton (Leinster), T O'Leary (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), S O'Brien (Leinster), S Jennings (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster). Replacements: J Flannery (Munster), T Court (Ulster), M McCarthy (Connacht), S Ferris (Ulster), E Reddan (Leinster), R O'Gara (Munster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster).France:
C Heymans; M Medard, A Rougerie, F Estebanez, A Palisson; D Skrela, M Parra; J-B Poux, D Szarzewski, N Mas, P Pape, L Nallet (capt), F Ouedraogo, J Bonnaire, L Picamoles. Replacements: G Guirado, F Barcella, J Pierre, R Lakafia, D Yachvili, D Marty, V Clerc.
Ding-ding. Round two of the afternoon is something of a tag-team effort here as Scotland and Italy square up at Murrayfield while France roll up in Dublin for an encounter with Ireland. Both get going at 1700BST.
It may be a win for Wales, but it won't be quite as impressive as if the Springboks hold the lead they have over the All Blacks. Morne Steyn has just slotted his fourth penalty to put
the Springboks, without a win all season, into a 12-0 lead
in their Tri Nations clash. Twenty-seven minutes gone in that match.
For interested English observers there weren't many signs that this Argentinean side packs anything like the power of the 2007 vintage. The Pumas are England's first World Cup Pool B opponents on 10 September.
A good final outing overall then from Wales after a stodgy first half-hour. The forwards fronted up and the backline showed enough craft and guile to exploit some of their openings.
FULL-TIME: WALES 28-13 ARGENTINA 81 mins:
Last play of the game and James Hook
takes a successful punt at the posts rather than stick it in the stands when given the chance by Roman Poite's award of a penalty.
81 mins: PENALTY: WALES 28-13 ARGENTINA
If only it was as clear-cut as the try graphic to the right of these words. The video referee pieces together events CSI-style to give replacement Martin Scelzo
the five points. Felipe Contepomi kicks the conversion to take the score to Wales 25-13 Argentina.
77 mins: TRY: WALES 25-11 ARGENTINA
Argentina drive a line-out over the Welsh line before collapsing in a heap of bodies. Roman Poite calls upstairs to the video judge to pick through the mess of limbs and work out if a try has been scored.
A well-worked score as the Pumas defence is sucked in to defend a forward rumble by the Welsh pack, before Lloyd Williams spins it to the backs. Jonathan Davies draws his man before slipping the ball inside to winger George North
who crashes over with a defender in tow around his ankles. Hook misses for the first time this afternoon with a wayward conversion.
71 mins: TRY: WALES 25-6 ARGENTINA 70 mins:
The rejigging to accomodate the replacements has taken the rhythm out of the contest, all bits and error-strewn set-pieces. Still Wales 20-6 Argentina.
Andy Powell taps and goes off a free-kick, the Pumas defence is not ten, but there is a brief spot of greater concern for the hosts. Jamie Roberts
winces as he stretches out a gammy leg before limping off to be replaced by Scott Williams. Hopefully just a dead leg there, looked that way in my very unexpert opinion.
Warren Gatland changes it up with a raft of replacements. Aled Brew, Ryan Bevington, Justin Tipuric, Lloyd Williams all on, while Leigh Halfpenny gets a chance to try out at full-back.
63 mins: Felipe Contepomi
slots one from straight in front to finally finds his range, but it is a long way back for the Pumas.
62 mins: PENALTY: WALES 20-6 ARGENTINA 61 mins:
Will this famed Welsh fitness, honed on two pre-season training camps to Poland, see them run away with the match from here? Argentina have played just two Tests this year...
An interception from Tavis Knoyle, who has been a lively presence at scrum-half, sets up a promising position for Wales. Hook advances meacingly on a scattered Argentina defence, but his attempt to dump a pass over the top of a defender to the charging Jamie Roberts is too ambitious.
No repeat of the previous adventure from Wales when awarded another penalty. Hook's
pinpoint kicking continues as he slaps one clean through the uprights to stretch the lead beyond two converted scores.
54 mins: PENALTY: WALES 20-3 ARGENTINA 51 mins:
Two Argentina defenders stray offside to offer up three points. Wales gamble with a kick to the corner, but bust as the Lobbe gobbles up yet another of Hibbard's wayward line-out throws.
James Hook seems to be existing somewhere on the high veldt while the rest of the game continues in the Welsh capital. A monster kick downfield flies from one 22m line clear of the other to put the Pumas back in their cage.
The crowd sense an opening as a streetwise bit of work from Martyn Williams turns over the ball. Jonathan Davies rather drifts though and squeezes the space for Knoyle and North, suffocating the life out of the move.
An early chance is taken by James Hook
as he keeps his immaculate kicking record intact with one right through the middle. The chance came about after another Argentina scrum was sent into reverse. A big plus point for Wales today.
PENALTY: WALES 17-3 ARGENTINA
Back under way in Cardiff after a classic back v forwards disagreement on the difficulty of throwing into the line-out from messrs Guscott and Wood during the half-time analysis.
Sean Ashford on Twitter:
"Considering the welsh 2nd rows and flanker were out of the scrum before the ball was out that first try shouldn't have been allowed" Powell was scrapping around at the base to try and serve it up to Knoyle, I thought he disengaged just in time to keep it all legal.
A breathless finish to the half from the Welsh, but is it just papering over the cracks? I suspect Warren Gatland won't be too happy with his side despite the late rush job. Felipe Contepomi
will be kicking himself, or at least trying to, in the visitors dressing room.
HALF-TIME - WALES 14-3 ARGENTINA
A total, and perhaps undeserved, turnaround, but the try was a beauty. Wales run from deep with Jamie Roberts staying on his feet and offloading for George North to exploit the space with his raking stride. The winger steps the penultimate defender, but wisely makes use of Alun Wyn Jones's
support to allow the second row to dot down in splendid isolation. Hook
shows Contepomi how it is done with a second conversion.WALES 14-3 ARGENTINA
37 mins: TRY - WALES 12-3 ARGENTINA
Wales seem to be in retreat as a messy scrum swivels one way then another. But from the chaos Tavis Knoyle wiggles free, Alun Wyn Jones takes it on and hands on for Andy Powell
to romp into the corner. James Hook
adds the extras. WALES 7-3 ARGENTINA
35 mins: TRY - WALES 5-3 ARGENTINA 33 mins:
And it could be worse for Wales. Contempomi's third penalty attempt resolutely sticks wide of the target despite the number 10's pleading.
The scoreboard cranks into action. Jones may have escaped punishment, but another infringement gives Contepomi
the chance to tee up a penalty. It wobbles towards the sticks and sneaks over via an upright to give the Pumas a deserved lead.
30 mins: PENALTY - WALES 0-3 ARGENTINA
That takes you back. An old-school rolling maul from Argentina begins to build up some momentum, before Adam Jones manfully throws himself under its wheels to bring it grinding to a halt.
Adam Jones' return does seem to have shored up the Welsh scrum a bit, but as one set-piece settles down another looks a little shaky. Hooker Richard Hibbard
is still missing double top with his line-out darts.
A brief glimmer for Leigh Halfpenny
down the wing as finally Argentina's backline organisation breaks up a bit. His scrum-capped head is bobbing for all he is worth as he sniffs the whitewash, but he is scragged by a covering defender 15 metres short.
Quarter of the game gone and still no score. In the words of Jonathan Davies
in the BBC commentary box, "it is very very scrappy, exactly what the Pumas would have wanted." Wales 0-0 Argentina.
Argentina seems to be at the controls of this contest so far. A probing kick downfield buys some territory, before the visitors construct a solid platform only for centre Marcelo Bosch to slice his drop-goal attempt wide.
Tavis Knoyle injects some much-needed urgency with a quick free-kick after a wheeled scrum. Martyn Williams's support is good, Hook flicks on a pass under pressure, but Jonathan Davies is a half a step behind and the chance goes to ground.
The Cardiff crowd are fairly muted after a strong start by the Pumas. The visitors are working through the phases smoothly to serve up good ball to scrum-half Nicolas Vergallo. Wales need to do something to disrupt that supply chain.
Andy Powell has his first charge, but Jamie Roberts' attempt to do likewise is turned over by the Pumas and, with Lee Bryne committed upfield, they boot long. Wales are spared though as the ball just bobbles out of play with Horacio Agulla leading the chase.
Sustained possession from the hosts, but their attacks sweep side to side, without much forward momentum.
A let-off for Wales. A break from full-back Martin Rodriguez
turns the Welsh defence and Martyn Williams
can't resist skirting round the wrong side of a ruck right under the referee's nose to concede a penalty. Contepomi
skews wide though and hacks at the turf in frustration.
Referee Roman Poite gets the match underway and James Hook immediately reverses his kick-off away from the forwards. George North
just fails to gather ahead of his Pumas opposite number.
Hooker Mario Ledesma wipes his eyes after blasting out the Argentine anthem. A fired-up Pumas pack will be good practice ahead of the Spingboks for Gatland's side.
The Pumas are out first in their sky blue and white hoops. The Millennium Stadium pyrotechnics department then press the button to send flames spitting into the air and Martyn Williams takes his cue to lead out the hosts.
Former England centre Jerry Guscott
on BBC One: "What I would like to see from a very exciting Welsh backline is some quality set-piece moves off first phase. They have scored after going through the phases, but we haven't seen them striking off first phase."
Former Ireland hooker Keith Wood
on BBC One: "For Argentina, it is all about team. It is instinctive, fighting alongside your mate and they always punch above their weight. They are always written off, but every time they deliver."
Scene firmly set? Good. Plenty more intrigue all across the field. Stade Francais-bound Felipe Contepomi against James Hook at 10, Lee Bryne looking to make 15 his own on his comeback and Martyn Williams needing a big performance to book his spot on the plane. Get in touch either via Twitter (via hashtag
) or, if you are in the UK, on 81111
on the good old-fashioned text and let us know your thoughts.
Martin Rodriguez, Horacio Agulla, Marcelo Bosch, Santiago Fernandez, Gonzalo Camacho, Felipe Contepomi (c), Nicolas Vergallo; Rodrigo Roncero, Mario Ledesma, Juan Figallo, Manuel Carizza, Patricio Albacete, Julio Farias Cabello, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Juan Fernandez Lobbe. Replacements: Agustin Creevy, Martin Scelzo, Mariano Galarza, Alejandro Campos, Alfredo Lalanne, Nicolas Sanchez, Juan Imhoff
Argentina were the surprise package of the 2007 World Cup, rolling all the way to the semi-finals after scalping hosts France in the opening game. Fancy dan full-back Juan Martin Hernandez
has been ruled out of this game and the whole of the 2011 event. But eight of the Pumas 2007 World Cup starting line-up remain, including gnarled front rowers Rodrigo Roncero
and Mario Ledesma
. Prop Adam Jones
will have his hands full on his return to the Wales pack.
So that leaves us with this little lot in the red of Wales:Wales:
Lee Byrne; Leigh Halfpenny, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North; James Hook, Tavis Knoyle; Paul James, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Martyn Williams (captain), Andy Powell.Replacements: Huw Bennett, Ryan Bevington, Jonathan Thomas, Justin Tipuric, Lloyd Williams, Scott Williams, Aled Brew
Wales head coach Warren Gatland was forced into a late fly-half reshuffle against England a fortnight ago when Stephen Jones
tweaked his calf in the warm-up and Rhys Priestland was ushered in to number 10 from full-back. The Scarlets stand-off, one cap away from the Welsh appearance record, still isn't fully recovered from that injury and has ceded his place on the bench to Scott Williams
Afternoon all. Your programme of international rugby union for the afternoon looks something like this: Argentina
provide the supporting cast for Wales'
final World Cup dress rehearsal. Curtain up at the Millennium Stadium at 1430 BST before Scotland
aim for stellar matinee performances against France and Italy respectively at 1700 BST.