Player ratings: Comeback kids
OPINION: Wales looked to bounce back from a Test drubbing against New Zealand when they tackled Argentina in Cardiff.
Wales put their Autumn Nations Series campaign back on track by beating Argentina 20-13 in an arm-wrestle of a Test match at the Principality Stadium.
Just seven days after shipping 55 points against New Zealand, Wales made a strong response as tries from No.8 Taulupe Faletau and scrumhalf Tomos Williams saw them home.
Argentina, recent conquerors of the All Blacks, England and Australia, were kept at bay by a defensive red wall as Michael Cheika’s men endured an evening to forget.
Tom Vinicombe rates the Welsh players after the Cardiff face-off!
1. Gareth Thomas – 7
Had the better of his opposite number in the first half, earning Wales a penalty at the set-piece. Made a couple of key clean-outs in the early stages of the second half to secure Wales’ ball. Didn’t shirk his defensive duties. Off in the 61st minute.
2. Ken Owens – 8
Carted the ball up regularly in the first half. Came within inches of scoring but had the ball dislodged as he fell over the line. Managed to hold up an almost certain Pumas try seconds after being wrong-footed by Juan Martin Gonzalez. Defended furiously, making a couple of nice hits in open play. Didn’t hit all his lineout targets but rarely faltered.
3. Dillon Lewis – 7
Put in a massive shift. Disrupted plenty of Pumas ball in the early stages of the match but was penalised for attempting to do the same in the second 40. Pinged inside Argentina’s 22 at scrum time for over-extending, relieving some pressure on the Pumas and copped a similar penalty in the second half. Off in the 75th minute.
4. Will Rowlands – 6
Threw himself into countless breakdowns, helping to build Wales’ phase count, and led the way defensively. A wee brain explosion in the 56th minute saw him yellow-carded for slapping the ball out of Gonzalez Bertranou’s hands while he was on the floor, but it didn’t prove costly for Wales. Off in the 73rd minute with an injury.
5. Adam Beard – 7
Combined well with his locking partner to do all the dirty work needed to build momentum. Secured an important breakdown penalty just metres out from the Wales line in the early stages of the second stanza. Penalised for diving on the ball at the breakdown. Originally the main lineout target for his side but couldn’t take the delivery five metres out from the Argentina line, forfeiting an attacking opportunity. Off in the 70th minute.
6. Dan Lydiate – 4
Wasn’t able to have any influence on the match before he left the park with a nasty-looking injury. Off in the 28th minute.
7. Justin Tipuric – 7
Did the dowdy stuff, hitting breakdowns and making countless tackles, but offered nothing with the ball in hand. The money-man at lineout time when Wales needed to secure the ball. Pinged for incorrect entry to a lineout maul and then for creeping up offside when Argentina were on the attack.
8. Taulupe Faletau – 7
Didn’t have the best opening 15 minutes. Stayed in support of the speed merchants in the backline when Louis Reese-Zammit made his first break of the match, but couldn’t get a clean offload away, turning over the ball. His inability to roll away from the breakdown prevented a Wales turnover when the Pumas were hot on attack, and ultimately gifted Argentina three points. He then cost his side another three points when he crept up offside at a lineout maul. Built into the game as time went on, however, and put his hand up to truck the ball forward. Grabbed the first try of the match, tumbling over from a five-metre lineout drive. Pinged at the beginning of the last quarter for kicking through the ball at the breakdown – though it was a close call. Shifted to lock for the final 10.
9. Tomos Williams – 9
Distributed sharply and played with zip. Won a kicking duel for Wales at the end of the first quarter, sending the ball deep into the Argentinian half from inside his own 22. A great follow-up to his own kick early in the second half allowed him to charge down the return attempt, and he pounced for Wales’ second try of the evening.
10. Gareth Anscombe – 5
A mixed bag, particularly off the boot. Miskicked an attempted up-and-under towards the end of the first quarter which ended Wales’ first set of consistent phases on attack. A pin-point kick into the corner handed Wales their first real attacking opportunity from a penalty but missed touch altogether from a penalty in the second half. Nailed all three of his shots on goal. Made a couple of nice spot tackles. Over-eager on defence in the early stages of the game, conceding a penalty. Off in the 55th minute.
11. Rio Dyer – 7
Burst to life in the opening stages of the match but barely featured in the second half. An early weaving return off a high kick would have given the youngster plenty of confidence to start out the match – though he soon copped a somewhat harsh penalty for blocking Argentinian kick-chasers.
12. Nick Tompkins – 5
Generated some good momentum from one attacking scrum but generally struggled against the fast-advancing Pumas defenders. Distributed well but mostly faded into the background. Off in the 53rd minute.
13. George North – 8
Penalised for a neck-high hold on Emiliano Boffelli. Unsurprisingly used as a battering ram in the midfield. Made a couple of big plays in the early stages of the final quarter, including holding up the Pumas ball carrier to turn over possession. A strong tackle on Pablo Matera in the 79th minute effectively secured the match for the home side.
14. Alex Cuthbert – 5
Looked slightly short of a gallop and struggled to find any open spaces in which he could stretch his legs.
15. Louis Reese-Zammit – 8
Took to the fullback role like a duck to water. Made a brilliant run from inside his own 22 to create a try-scoring opportunity with his first-ever touch in the Wales No 15 jersey.
16. Ryan Elias – N/A
On in 73rd minute. Asked to fill in on the blindside following Rowlands’ injury.
17. Rhodri Jones – 6
On in 61st minute. Made a couple of big plays in the final moments of the game. Penalised for not rolling away at the breakdown.
18. Sam Wainwright – N/A
On in the 75th minute.
19. Ben Carter – N/A
On in the 70th minute.
20. Jac Morgan – 8
On in the 28th minute. Made a big impact. A nicely timed tackle from the reserve loose forward forced a knock-on, ending Argentina’s final attack of the first half. Combined well with North to hold up Santiago Carreras. Made a nice wee break at the end of the match but couldn’t find his support. Finished the game with 17 tackles.
21. Kieran Hardy – N/A
22. Rhys Priestland – 6
On in the 55th minute. Like the man he replaced, delivered a mixed bag of kicks. Failed to find touch with one penalty.
23. Owen Watkin – 6
On in the 53rd minute. Had a bit more luck as a ball-carrier than the man he replaced.
additional reporting PA