Argentina's Juan Imhoff (L) celebrates with his teammates
after scoring a try against Wales during their rugby test
at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
A match-hardened Argentina showed off all their
improvement after a season mixing with the best of the southern
hemisphere as they stunned Six Nations champions Wales 26-12 in
The Pumas, fresh from their inaugural season in the Rugby
Championship, dominated possession and territory under the
roof at the Millennium Stadium and while it took them nearly
an hour to break through the Welsh defence, once they had,
the floodgates opened and victory was never in doubt.
Wingers Juan Imhoff and Gonzalo Camacho scored second-half
tries for Argentina while flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez converted
both tries and kicked two drop goals and a penalty for a
personal haul of 13 points.
Fullback Leigh Halfpenny kicked all the Welsh points with
"We have been searching for this win for a long time as a
group," Pumas captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe told BBC
"We are so happy to be able to win against such a good team,
the Six Nations champions....It's huge to get this win for
this group, in this stadium, the best stadium in the world."
Expectations of a scrappy test match were realised early on
as Argentina adopted a predictably direct and forward
Experienced centre Felipe Contepomi, returning to the Pumas
side after missing the Rugby Championship, gave the visitors
the lead after three minutes when he made Welsh lock Ian
Evans pay for a high tackle by calmly slotting the resulting
penalty from almost directly in front.
It would prove to be Contepomi's last significant act of the
match, and possibly of his international career, as the
35-year-old was stretchered off the field with a knee injury
after 12 minutes.
Halfpenny put Wales on the board soon after they went behind
but Sanchez, promoted to flyhalf ahead of Juan Martin
Hernandez, who instead started at fullback, underlined
Argentina's game plan as he slipped back into the pocket to
snatch a drop goal and restore his side's three point lead.
It did not last long, however, and two more Halfpenny
penalties ensured Wales took a slim 9-6 advantage into the
Argentina came out with more ferocious intensity in the
second half, and after Sanchez's drop goal cancelled out
Halfpenny's fourth penalty, they capitalised on their
continued dominance in possession and territory.
Sustained forward pressure produced Argentina's first genuine
try scoring opportunity of the match and they duly took it
when influential openside flanker Juan Martin Leguizamon
offloaded the ball to his captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe
who found a flying Imhoff.
With Halfpenny approaching, Imhoff stepped off the right foot
to leave the Welsh number 15 stunned as he ran to score under
The try bred renewed confidence in Argentina and they had
Wales on the ropes when more blunt forward play created
surging momentum and Camacho benefited when the ball was spat
out to the right and he dived to score in the corner.
Sanchez converted both tries and added a late penalty to
ensure Argentina's second ever victory in Cardiff. It came
exactly eleven years to the day since their first.
Wales have now lost their last four tests following their
June tour of Australia and have little time to pick
themselves up with Samoa, world champions New Zealand and
Australia to come in the next three weeks.