Rugby: Ayerza proud of win over Wales

Argentina prop Marcos Ayerza has hailed the Pumas' "huge achievement" in defeating RBS 6 Nations champions and World Cup semi-finalists Wales on home soil.

Rugby News: Marcos Ayerza, Argentina

The last time Argentina managed it 11 years ago, their team included world stars like Agustin Pichot, Federico Mendez and captain Lisandro Arbizu.

And while the Pumas' current crop boasts established world-class performers such as Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Juan Martin Hernandez and Juan Manuel Leguizamon, they also showcased exciting fresh talent.

Fly-half Nicolas Sanchez scored 13 of his side's points - including two drop-goals - in a 26-12 Millennium Stadium victory, while wing Juan Imhoff scored a brilliant opening try.

The only low point for Argentina was talisman centre Felipe Contepomi's early departure due to a knee injury.

The 35-year-old, who has won 79 caps, left the ground on crutches and it is likely his Test match career is now over a fortnight before he was expected to formally retire from international rugby.

Argentina, fresh from their debut season in the Rugby Championship alongside New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, posed numerous problems for a lethargic Wales team.

Although the Pumas trailed 9-6 at half-time and Contepomi had already left the action on a stretcher, they went up a gear in the second period, scoring 20 points and performing with an intensity that Wales could not handle.

"We didn't have control of the game in the first-half," Leicester forward Ayerza said.

"The scrum and the lineout weren't going our way, but we came back into the game.

"Playing games against the best sides in the world and playing at a high tempo and intensity can only help us to develop.

"You saw that against Wales. We played 80 minutes at a very good intensity, and this win is massive for us.

"It shows we are going in the right direction and that we are improving as a nation. To beat Wales at the Millennium Stadium is a huge achievement, one that we are very proud of.

"This year has been our first season in the Rugby Championship, and there is no doubt we will continue to improve.

"Now, we have two more massive games coming up against France and Ireland. They will be tough, but this win will have given us extra confidence."

Skipper Lobbe, as ever, led from the front with an inspired display that proved a fitting way to mark his 50th cap.

And Ayerza added: "He is such a talisman for us, such a positive influence in so many different ways.

"He is one of the best captains I have ever played under, and he always shows the way with his performances. He always gives 100%."

Pumas coach Santiago Phelan, who played in the 2001 Millennium Stadium fixture, said: "We are very happy with our performance.

"The team took the initiative in the first 20 minutes and played very well in the second half, moving the ball and keeping possession.

"The intensity of the game was very high, but the Argentinian players have had a good experience playing in the Rugby Championship and have learned to play at this intensity.

"It was a good step forward for our team in terms of intensity and tempo and scoring points, which was one of our major goals for this game."



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