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Wales grind out much-needed win over Argentina

Published 12/11/2016

Gareth Davies scores Wales' second try against Argentina
Gareth Davies scores Wales' second try against Argentina

Wales recorded their first victory since March as they ended a run of five successive Test match defeats by eclipsing Argentina at the Principality Stadium.

Second-half tries from wing Liam Williams and scrum-half Gareth Davies made the difference as Wales bounced back after last weekend's 32-8 drubbing against Australia to kick-start their autumn campaign.

Much of it was not pretty, yet the Wales pack enjoyed a degree of control, which meant the Pumas were frequently denied quality possession and it ultimately made a difference as the home side prevailed 24-20.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked four penalties and a conversion, while fly-half Nicolas Sanchez landed two penalties for Argentina and converted tries by centre Juan Martin Hernandez and scrum-half Martin Landajo as the Pumas narrowly fell to a fifth loss in their past six games against Wales.

Wales had not won since they defeated Italy on the final day of last season's RBS 6 Nations Championship, losing to England at Twickenham before suffering three defeats in New Zealand and then being walloped by the Wallabies last time out.

They are, though, off and running ahead of remaining autumn appointments with Japan and South Africa after a game when the result unquestionably held far more importance than the performance.

Wales needed a bright start following their woes against the Wallabies, but it was Argentina - seeking only a third victory over their opponents in Cardiff at the 10th attempt - who struck first when Sanchez slotted an early penalty.

The number 10 missed a longer range chance five minutes later as Wales struggled to make an impression, being forced on to the back foot through a combination of the Pumas' contact area aggression and speed of thought behind the scrum.

But when Wales eventually found a foothold inside Argentina's half, they drew level through an angled Halfpenny penalty before he struck again eight minutes later, this time from closer range after Wales' forwards impressively drove a lineout.

Wales continued to exert pressure, dominating Argentina's much-vaunted set-piece game, and wing Liam Williams twice went close to extending their advantage before being denied by frantic defending.

Argentina's early adventure had been wiped out by Wales' forward strength, but the home side were left frustrated that they could not increase a three-point advantage before the break.

They even had a temporary one-man advantage after referee Angus Gardner sent Pumas tighthead prop Ramiro Herrera to the sin-bin following a scrummaging infringement, yet Wales had to settle for a 6-3 interval lead.

But they began the second period strongly, with fly-half Dan Biggar making a sniping break through Argentina's midfield defence and almost sending a supporting Halfpenny over.

Argentina looked to have absorbed the threat, yet Wales had other ideas as possession was rapidly switched in the other direction and Williams touched down under a pile of bodies, with the try awarded after Gardner sought confirmation from television match official Sean Davey.

Halfpenny missed the touchline conversion attempt, and Argentina responded just five minutes later as they narrowed the gap when Landajo took a quick penalty and Hernandez reacted quickest, stretching ahead of Biggar to claim a touchdown that Sanchez converted.

Back came Wales when Davies, who started instead of ankle injury victim Rhys Webb, pounced from close range for a try that Halfpenny converted, yet Argentina had another rapid response up their sleeve, this time through the impressive Landajo.

The Pumas number nine could not be stopped from close range, and Sanchez's conversion set up a tense final 15 minutes with the result firmly in the balance.

A Sanchez penalty seven minutes from time meant the vast majority of a 50,000 crowd could not relax, despite a Halfpenny strike, but Wales had done just enough as they successfully closed out the contest and sealed victory with another Halfpenny penalty during the dying seconds.

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