Wales beats Argentina 30-12 in 2nd test and sweeps series
SANTA FE, Argentina (AP) Flyhalf Rhys Patchell kicked 20 points as Wales beat Argentina 30-12 in the second rugby test and won the series 2-0 on Saturday.
Patchell kicked a conversion and six penalties – seven goals from nine attempts – to ensure Wales won a series in Argentina for only the second time and for the first time since 1999.
In doing so, Wales sent a clear warning to potential opponents at next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan. Wales has beaten South Africa once and Wales twice this month and, employing a rotational selection policy, has built a deep pool of talent near World Cup year.
In contrast, Argentina’s Rugby World Cup prospects look bleak after back-to-back losses to Wales, 23-10 in the first test. The Pumas were fourth at the 2015 World Cup, third in 2007, and finished in the top eight in 1999 and 2011. But recent test performances point to a decline which might be hard to reverse in the year left before the tournament.
The Argentina forward pack, once the source of its strength, is ageing and no longer the force it once was. That was reflected on Saturday when coach Daniel Hourcade replaced captain Agustin Creevy, lock Tomas Lavanini, and flanker Pablo Matera after only 48 minutes.
The Pumas once again centered their play around the forwards, using the pick-and-go style which has served them well in the past. But they were unable to retain possession for long periods, due mainly to the performance of the Wales back row which competed superbly at breakdowns.
Argentina’s indiscipline was again a major issue and it gave away a steady stream of penalties inside its own half. Patchell’s unerring boot ensured the Pumas paid heavily for those lapses.
But the match also ended on a sour note for Wales when No. 8 Ross Moriarty received a red card in injury time when he took Pumas flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez in a choke hold which he refused to release when ordered to do so by the assistant referee. The incident was an ugly one, more so when a member of the Argentina medical staff became involved.
If there was a further concern for Wales, it was that they managed only one try in each half from a thoroughly dominant performance and the first of those came from an act of pure opportunism by right winger Josh Adams.
Argentina scored two tries – the first through winger Bautista Delguy, who scored his first test try in his second appearance. There was enough to suggest the Pumas have an unexploited strength out wide through Delguy, Ramiro Moyano, and fullback Emiliano Boffelli, who is among the leading tryscorers in Super Rugby.
They appeared to lack the confidence to use the ball out wide until Wales’ mounting scoreline forced them to chase the game. After Moriarty’s dismissal and in the fifth minute of injury time, Argentina managed a consolation try to replacement hooker Julian Montoya.
Wales opened the scoring with two penalties to Patchell before Adams’ try made the score 13-0. The winger received a loose pass near the right hand touch, retrieved the ball then darted infield, piercing a huge gap in the Pumas’ midfield and scoring untouched after stepping the final defender.
Further penalties to Patchell made the lead 19-0 before Argentina gave itself a flicker of hope with Delguy’s try just before halftime.
Wales sealed the match with a try to fullback Hallam Amos midway through the second half, moving the ball wide to George North then infield to Amos, who also scored in the first test.