Welsh relief with narrow Pumas win
MATCH REPORT: Wales ended their five-game losing run with a scrappy but desperately-needed 24-20 victory over Argentina on Saturday.
Liam Williams and Gareth Davies scored second half tries as Wales dominated possession with a rejuvenated display after their 8-32 mauling at the hands of Australia last weekend.
Yet it was not until Leigh Halfpenny kicked two late penalties that victory was finally secured after Argentina twice came back to within a point through tries by Juan-Martin Hernandez and Martin Landajo.
However, Wales will care little if this was hardly a convincing display as they claimed their first victory since beating Italy in the Six Nations back in March.
Argentina were forced into an 11th-hour change when wing Ramiro Moyano pulled up during the warm-up, though the promotion of Santiago Cordero off the bench hardly weakened the team.
Sanchez opened the scoring after just four minutes with a penalty, though missed the chance to double the lead moments later after Wales were caught needlessly offside from Dan Biggar's kick.
Halfpenny levelled the scores on 15 minutes but despite a vastly improved first half performance from last week's abject display against Australia, that yielded 62 percent possession, Wales could only lead 6-3 at half-time.
They went close several times to crossing Argentina's line. Ken Owens was stopped just short from an impressive lineout drive and Liam Williams was out-jumped by Joaquin Tuculet, who was later forced off.
Williams went agonisingly close again just before half-time when he shrugged off opposite number Matias Moroni but was forced out by the corner flag. Welsh pressure looked to have told when Ramiro Herrera was shown a yellow card following a succession of penalties against the Pumas.
But replacement prop Enrique Pieretto made an immediate impact as the seven Argentina forwards demolished the Welsh set-piece at a scrum just five yards off their own line.
That felt like a symbolic victory for Argentina on the stroke of half-time but Wales finally made the extra man count just two minutes into the second half.
Biggar slipped through a gap and George North got to within two yards of the line. However, two arching passes across field by Scott Williams and Halfpenny found Williams out wide and the wing stepped inside before barging his way over the line.
Halfpenny missed the conversion from out wide though.
Alun Wyn Jones was fortunate to escape further punishment than a penalty for a neck roll on flyhalf Sanchez that sparked a brief melee.
However, Wales did not get away with a lack in concentration moments later when Landajo left the defence flat-footed with a quickly-taken penalty before slipping through a kick that saw Hernandez touch down close to the posts. Sanchez converted to cut the Welsh lead to a single-point at 11-10.
Gethin Jenkins, whose 133rd appearance was an international record for a front row forward, was enjoying his special day and his cheeky kick set up the driving line-out that ended with Davies squeezing over for Wales' second try.
The forwards crabbed their way in-field, opening space for the scrumhalf to wriggle between three defenders to score.
Yet Wales were pegged back to a point once again within six minutes when Davies' opposite number Landajo squeezed over and Sanchez converted. But Halfpenny held his nerve to slot two late penalties.
Tries: L Williams, Davies
Pens: Halfpenny 4
Tries: Hernandez, Landajo
Cons: Sanchez 2
Pens: Sanchez 2
Yellow card: Ramiro Herrera (Argentina, 38)
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 (captain).
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 (captain), 1 Lucas Noguera.
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Leonardo Senatore, 20 Tomas 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)