Wales hammer sorry Argentina
November 16, 2013
Sam Warburton leads the line against Argentina
© PA Photos
Wales romped to a record victory over Argentina as they claimed their first autumn Test victory against any opponent since beating the Pumas in Cardiff four years ago.
Quality tries during the opening 25 minutes by scrum-half Mike Phillips and wing George North confirmed Wales' attacking ambition and intent that underpinned their performance. No. 8 Toby Faletau added a touchdown midway through the second period before substitute hooker Ken Owens' score completed a miserable afternoon for an outclassed Pumas team as they crashed to a 40-6 loss.
Full-back Leigh Halfpenny followed up his 100 per cent goalkicking performance against South Africa last with another impressive return - he booted 20 points from all four conversions and four penalties - as Wales comfortably passed their previous biggest against Argentina of 33-16. The Pumas could only muster two Nicolas Sanchez penalties in reply, and they looked a tired, often disorganised outfit on route to an eighth successive defeat this year.
Wales now move on to tackle Tonga next Friday night before hosting Australia eight days after that, with victory over the Wallabies now the reigning Six Nations champions' primary November target. Wales coach Warren Gatland handed a debut to 20-year-old Cardiff Blues centre Cory Allen, who was one of four changes following last weekend's loss to South Africa, with fly-half Dan Biggar, prop Rhodri Jones and flanker Justin Tipuric also called up.
Argentina, defeated 31-12 by England seven days ago, also showed four switches, while wing Horacio Agulla won his 50th cap as they looked to avoid an eighth successive loss this year. Prop Gethin Jenkins led Wales out to a rapturous reception on the occasion of his 100th cap, and the home side made a strong start, monopolising possession and going through several phases of play before Halfpenny kicked an angled penalty.
Argentina could offer little in response, and Wales extended their lead after eight minutes when a crunching tackle by hooker Richard Hibbard - Wales' best player last weekend - on Sanchez set up a breakaway score for Phillips. The Wales scrum-half sprinted 70 metres to Argentina's line, and Halfpenny's conversion made it 10-0 before Tipuric was sin-binned by referee John Lacey on his assistant Steve Walsh's recommendation for tackling a Pumas player off the ball.
Sanchez's resulting penalty hit the post, but Wales will have been satisfied with their opening despite the yellow for Tipuric, and a second Halfpenny penalty took the home team 13 points clear. Argentina occasionally threatened Wales' 22, but the home team displayed a clinical edge and desire in attack that was underlined through their second try after 24 minutes.
The source was quality lineout ball, before Phillips delivered a deft inside pass that North gathered on a defence-splitting angle before touching down between the posts. Halfpenny added the conversion, and Wales were almost out of sight at 20 points clear to suggest a record win against Argentina was very much on the cards.
Sanchez opened the Pumas' account with a penalty 11 minutes before half-time, but they faced a long uphill battle to get themselves back into the contest as Halfpenny's third successful penalty restored a 20-point lead for Wales. Wales showed no sign of letting up in terms of their attacking intent, and centre Scott Williams sparked a brilliant attack from deep inside his own 22 that almost resulted in a try for North.
The Northampton wing required treatment after he was tackled, but he quickly dusted himself down as Halfpenny's fourth successful penalty extended Wales' lead to 26-3. A second Sanchez penalty doubled Argentina's tally, before Halfpenny missed his first kick of the autumn - it was his 12th attempt across two games - approaching the final quarter.
But Wales then cut open Argentina's defence, with Halfpenny making initial headway before finding wing Liam Williams in support, and his scoring pass was taken by Faletau. Halfpenny converted for a 33-6 advantage, with Argentina pretty much out on their feet and facing a painful damage-limitation exercise during the closing 20 minutes.
There was time, though, for one more try as Owens capitalised on outstanding driving work by his fellow forwards, with the ultra-reliable Halfpenny once again converting.
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