Wales fans breathed a collective sigh of relief at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, as the men in red scraped past a dogged Argentina side that looked determined to back up last week’s victory over Japan.
Wales led 6-3 at half time courtesy of two Leigh Halfpenny penalties, but frustratingly missed several opportunities to be even further ahead after dominating territory and possession.
The game opened up in the second half, Liam Williams’ try just reward for his attacking verve. It was great to see both Williams and Alun Wyn Jones back in action this week, and their presence on the pitch certainly seemed to add a boost to squad morale and an increase in quality after a shabby performance last week. Wyn Jones was visibly emotional during the anthems – he bravely chose to play ahead of his dad’s funeral, which took place today.
The Pumas clawed their way back into the game on two occasions, the excellent Juan Martin Hernandez and scrum-half Martin Landajo crossing to keep the visitors in touching distance. However, Leigh Halfpenny’s 78th minute penalty was enough to secure Wales’ first win in six games.
Emily and I had an absolutely brilliant day in Cardiff on Saturday with our friends Danny, Bek, Karl and Carrie. It was a massive weekend of rugby in the Welsh capital, with the UKAF game against Wales women the night before drawing a record home crowd of 1300 – absolutely fantastic. I cannot speak highly enough of this excellent fixture, and I hope it continues to go from strength to strength.
After some amazing matches all weekend, it has to be said the standard of rugby on the pitch between Wales and Argentina felt a little disappointing at times. I think most fans – myself included – wanted to see Wales play ambitious attacking rugby, with the kind of flair the likes of the Ospreys in particular have been playing of late. The inclusion of Liam Williams on the wing hinted at a fast paced game which never truly reached fifth gear.
Having felt a little despondent after the game (despite winning), I must say I’ve felt more positive about Wales’ performance on reflection. Halfpenny, Liam Williams, Alun Wyn Jones and the returning Sam Warburton all had excellent games, stamping their authority all over the pitch in a brutally physical encounter. It’s great to be back to winning ways, and I hope we can carry this momentum into the Japan game next weekend. That would set Wales up for an explosive encounter against South Africa in the final autumn test.