GETHIN Jenkins has admitted that Wales have no one to blame but themselves after the reigning RBS 6 Nations champions’ shambolic performance against Argentina.
Wales 12 - 26 Argentina
Scorers: Wales: Pens: Halfpenny 4. Argentina: Tries: Imhoff, Camacho. Cons: Sanchez 2. Pens: Contepomi, Sanchez. Drop Goals: Sanchez 2
Wales’ 26-12 defeat was their heaviest home loss for three years and biggest reversal anywhere since losing to France in Paris, 22 Test matches ago. It also left their hopes of securing a top-four seeding at the 2015 World Cup in tatters.
With next month’s tiered draw being based on global rankings, Wales might even find themselves outside the top eight by early December given that their next three opponents are Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.
Life is not about to get any easier for last year’s World Cup semi-finalists in terms of their autumn fixture list, while key players Jamie Roberts and Alun-Wyn Jones have now joined an injury list that already includes Adam Jones, Dan Lydiate, Jonathan Davies and Ryan Jones.
While centre Davies and back-row forward Ryan Jones could be back in the mix for next Friday’s appointment with Samoa, it looks likely that Roberts (concussion) and Jones (shoulder) will struggle to play Test rugby again this year.
The combined effect of those first half departures contributed considerably towards Wales seeing a 9-6 interval advantage disintegrate as Argentina recorded only a second victory over Wales in Cardiff – 11 years to the day after their first.
“We just didn’t play in the right areas,” said 91 times-capped prop Jenkins, after tries during six second half minutes by Argentina wings Juan Imhoff and Gonzalo Camacho stunned Wales. “It’s back to the drawing board.”
“Argentina came with a game-plan to kick a lot and be very physical, but we played into their hands, really. We tried to play too much rugby inside our own territory, and I don’t know whether it tired us out when it came to the last 25 or 30 minutes. They seemed to up the tempo and we couldn’t live with it.”
Argentina arrived in the Welsh capital battle-hardened from their debut Rugby Championship campaign, and they showcased the benefits of tackling southern hemisphere heavyweights New Zealand, Australia and South Africa on a regular basis.
Jenkins added: “I have played against Argentina before, but they’ve definitely gone up a level from where they have been. But we didn’t perform. We made mistakes, we lost the ball quite a bit and we weren’t on our game.
“We tried to play too much. I know that’s a negative thing to say, but you look at the top teams and they play in the right territory and put pressure on their opponents. There is no time for us to dwell on it. We are straight back into it to prepare for Samoa.”
Wales’ interim head coach Rob Howley, in charge while Warren Gatland begins preparations to head up next summer’s British and Lions tour of Australia, admitted his team were “one-paced”.
But he must also urgently address the anonymous performances of several key players prior to a Samoa clash that has danger written all over it with Wales having won just three of their last six meetings with the South Sea Islanders.
Howley’s dilemma is whether he gives his Argentina flops another chance or shakes things up. Whatever he decides on, the Ospreys trio of fly-half Dan Biggar, hooker Richard Hibbard and flanker Justin Tipuric must start, while there is a strong case for Bradley Davies and Luke Charteris to be included.
“I am disappointed, frustrated and annoyed because we know we are a better side than that,” Howley said.
“When you play Argentina, tempo, pace and intensity are important, but there is no doubt that their experience and exposure to the Rugby Championship has taken that Argentina side to another level. We very much came second.”
Meanwhile, Argentina’s fly half Felipe Contepomi suffered a serious knee ligament injury in Cardiff that looks set to end his career.
Wales: Halfpenny, Cuthbert, S. Williams, Roberts, North, Priestland, Knoyle, Jenkins, Rees, Jarvis, A. Jones, Evans, Turnbull, Warburton, Faletau. Replacements: Hook for Roberts (23), Phillips for Knoyle (56), Bevington for Jenkins (68), Hibbard for Rees (60), James for Jarvis (60), McCusker for A. Jones (39), Tipuric for Warburton (70). Not Used: L. Williams.
Argentina: Hernandez, Camacho, Tiesi, Contepomi, Imhoff, Sanchez, Landajo, Ayerza, Guinazu, Figallo, Carizza, Farias Cabello, Fernandez Lobbe, Leguizamon, Senatore. Replacements: Agulla for Hernandez (45), Tuculet for Contepomi (14), Vergallo for Landajo (66), Postiglioni for Ayerza (78), Creevy for Guinazu (48), Gomez Kodela for Figallo (66), Vallejos for Farias Cabello (64), Leonardi for Senatore (56).
Att: 72,896. Referee: Romain Poite (France).