Wales grind past Argentina in Cardiff

Wales returned to the victory trail after grinding out hard-fought 24-20 victory over Argentina in Cardiff on Saturday.

The home side dominated for large periods and should have won this match by a much bigger margin but they several mistakes and were lucky to secure victory in the end.

Both sides crossed for two tries apiece but it was the goalkicking of Leigh Halfpenny which proved the difference for Wales as he finished with a 14-point haul courtesy of three penalties and a conversion.

The opening half was a slugfest with both teams battling to gain the ascendancy and neither side managed to score any tries during this period. 

Nicolás Sánchez opened the scoring from the kicking tee in the third minute before Halfpenny drew the home side level with a penalty of his own 10 minutes later.

The rest of the half was a war of attrition as both sides tried to assert their authority but the only points of the half was another Halfpenny penalty in the 23rd minute.

Argentina suffered a setback just before half-time when Ramiro Herrera was sent to the sin bin after referee Angus Gardner had warned Los Pumas for continous infringements on defence close to their tryline.

Herrera's yellow card would prove costly as Wales made full use of their numerical advantage when, two minutes into the second half, Liam Williams crossed for the opening try after Dan Biggar and Halfpenny combined brilliantly in the build-up.

Halfpenny failed with the conversion attempt and the visitors soon had their opening five-pointer when Juan Martín Hernández dived onto the ball behind the home side's try-line after Martín Landajo had stabbed a teasing grubber kick through for him to chase.

Five minutes later, Wales went on a line-out drive deep inside Argentina's 22 and when the maul's mometum was halted close Los Pumas' try-line Gareth Davies showed great determination and leg drive before diving over for a deserved try.

Halfpenny's conversion gave the hosts some breathing space but it didn't take long for Argentina to strike back – Landajo barging over from close quarters, and when Sanchez slotted the conversion it was game on with Wales holding a slender 18-17 lead with less than 20 minutes remaining.

Halfpenny and Sanchez then traded penalties, which meant it was still a one-point game inside the final 10 minutes. The home side would have the last laugh, however, as another Halfpenny penalty two minutes before the end sealed their victory.

The scorers:

For Wales:
L Williams, Davies
Cons: Halfpenny
Pens: Halfpenny 4

For Argentina:
Hernández, Landajo
Cons: Sanchez 2
Pens: Sanchez 2
Yellow Card: Herrera

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sam Warburton, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Gethin Jenkins (c)
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Cory Hill, 20 James King, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Jamie Roberts

Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Lucas Noguera
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Leonardo Senatore, 20 Tomás Lezana, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Santiago Cordero

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Luke Pearce (England)
TMO: Shaun Davey (England)