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Page last updated at 16:09 GMT, Saturday, 21 November 2009

Wales 33-16 Argentina

Wales (13) 33
Tries: S Jones, S Williams 2 Cons: S Jones 3 Pens: S Jones 2, Halfpenny 2
Argentina (3) 16
Try: Rodriguez Con: Rodriguez Pens: Rodriguez 3

Winger Shane Williams jinks through the Argentina defence

Highlights: Wales 33-16 Argentina

By Bruce Pope
BBC Sport at the Millennium Stadium

Three opportunistic tries led Wales to an ultimately comfortable win over Argentina in Cardiff on Saturday.

Fly-half Stephen Jones first out-foxed the Pumas with a tap and run penalty as they expected him to go for the posts.

Wing Shane Williams claimed the other two, gathering a charge down to score before fielding a loose Pumas kick to go under the posts.

Martin Rodriguez scored all Argentina's points, including a try from rival centre Jonathan Davies' error.

Wales showed their early intent to play a running game, in front of 53,082 fans at the Millennium Stadium, when the ball squirted out of the back of an Argentina ruck.

A foray down the left was repulsed but Wales recycled and Luke Charteris found himself in space on the other side of the pitch for a rumble down the wing.

The Dragons lock looked isolated from any support for a moment but Argentina piled over the top in their haste and gave up a penalty.

Wing Leigh Halfpenny was summoned as Wales' long-range option, but his kick just faded across the front of the posts and fell short.

The scrum confrontation had been built up before the game and the first clash between the two packs went Argentina's way, with referee George Clancy awarding the Pumas a free-kick.

But the Wales eight replied soon after in the loose, a furious counter-ruck splintering the visitors and drawing a second penalty.

Stephen Jones stroked the kick over from 40 yards out and in front of the posts.

Wales' stand-in tight-head Paul James was in plenty of trouble in the scrum against Rodrigo Roncero, the Osprey finding himself being buckled inwards.

Gatland pleased with Wales progression

But good hooking from Matthew Rees funnelled the ball swiftly to captain Ryan Jones at the base of the scrum, the number eight picking and driving before the pressure on the Wales scrum became too great.

Argentina, lacking the class of Felipe Contepomi and Juan Martin Hernandez in the backs, initially tried the long kicking game that had unsettled England last week.

But while at Twickenham they had found the butter fingers of Ugo Monye in front of them, the Pumas found James Hook a far different proposition.

Both players are not natural full-backs but Hook is looking more and more the part at 15 the longer this autumn series continues.

When the Pumas were pinged at another ruck , fly-half Jones strolled forward to claim the ball and the visitors turned their backs to take position for the kick.

The Wales 10 had not yet signalled he would go for the posts and spotted an opening, tapping and racing into the right corner for a cheeky try, converting himself.


There were even signs of green shoots back at the scrum, with James twice in succession earning penalties in favour of Wales in the front-row tussle.

Argentina had rarely threatened the Welsh half and their first chance of points was a long-range Martin Rodriguez penalty that unluckily bounced back off a post.

For a moment it seemed as though the rebound might work in Argentina's favour, but a knock-on spoiled their best position of the match and Wales cleared.

Rodriguez had better fortune with his second penalty five minutes later, sending his kick straight between the uprights.

But Stephen Jones - this time watched like a hawk by the Argentina players - restored Wales' advantage to 13-3 just before half-time, after Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe had entered a ruck from the side.

Many of the crowd were still taking their seats for the second half when Wales scored a second try.

Argentina had gathered the restart tidily enough but when scrum-half Agustin Figuerola tried to box-kick clear from the ruck, Charteris got a hand to ball.

Stephen Jones opens the scoring for Wales with his tap and run penalty
Stephen Jones opens the scoring for Wales with his tap and run penalty

Williams was on the charge-down in a flash, gathering before jinking inside three defenders to stretch his Wales try record to 47.

Jones' conversion gave Wales a comfortable 20-3 lead, but we at last started to see more of Argentina fly-half Santiago Fernandez releasing his backline to run.

That approach at last started to reap some territorial rewards and earned two penalties that Rodriguez converted.

Stephen Jones missed one difficult penalty chance in between the two successes from the Pumas centre, but Halfpenny struck a fine 45-yarder to make it 23-9 with 55 minutes gone.

The new Wales midfield partnership of Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies had looked solid without being spectacular, but junior member Davies blotted his copy book to gift a try.

The Scarlets 12 cannoned a kick off the shins of Rodriguez and the centre gathered the loose ball to race away into the left corner, adding a fine conversion to his opportunistic touch-down.

Just as in last week's 17-13 win over Samoa, Wales had looked comfortable but then put themselves in danger by gifting a try to the opposition.

Costly mistakes not acceptable - Lobbe

Argentina were now just 23-16 behind but replied the favour they had just been shown by their hosts.

Fernandez Lobbe's ill-advised chip ahead went straight at Williams and the Ospreys wing, spotting a lack of chasers, turned and raced through the middle of the disorganised Pumas to go under the posts to reclaim seven points.

Another fine kick from halfway by Halfpenny stretched Wales away to 33-16 as the game entered the last stages, putting a gloss on the final score-line.

With the result safe, Wales coach Warren Gatland sent on Dragons back-row Dan Lydiate to win his first cap, replacing Andy Powell on the blind-side, with Tom James and Andrew Bishop also entering the fray.

Wales can now go into their final autumn Test against Australia in good heart but most importantly, good form.

Wales: Hook; Halfpenny, J. Roberts, Davies, S. Williams; S. Jones, Cooper; Jenkins, Rees, P. James, A. Jones, Charteris, Powell, M. Williams, R. Jones.
Replacements: Bishop for Davies (73), T. James for S. Williams (73), Peel for Cooper (66), Bennett for Rees (68), D. Jones for P. James (57), Thomas for Charteris (68), Lydiate for Powell (73).

Argentina: Agulla; Borges, Tiesi, Rodriguez, Comuzzi; Fernandez, Figuerola; Roncero, Ledesma, Scelzo, Sambucetti, Albacete, Leonardi, Abadie, Fernandez Lobbe.
Replacements: San Martin for Tiesi (76), Urdapilleta for Comuzzi (71), Ayerza for Scelzo (66), Carizza for Sambucetti (63), Campos for Abadie (71).
Not Used: Basualdo, Lalanne.

Att: 53,082

Ref: George Clancy (RU).

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see also
Williams hungry for more success
22 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Wales leave Pumas chasing tails
22 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Autumn international rugby as it happened
21 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
Jeremy Guscott Q&A
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Wales v Argentina scrum war brews
20 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Shanklin out of Argentina clash
16 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Wales holding fire on young guns
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England 16-9 Argentina
14 Nov 09 |  English
Wales 17-13 Samoa
13 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Wales 12-19 New Zealand
07 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Puma power: Argentinian rugby
16 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
Wales v Argentina: Full record
28 Sep 06 |  Rugby Union
Wales' rugby fixtures
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Wales rugby results archive
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BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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