Wales’ hopes of securing a top-four seeding – and Scotland’s of being in the top eight – for the 2015 World Cup nosedived after Argentina stunned them at the Millennium Stadium.
Eleven years to the day after Argentina’s only previous win over Wales in Cardiff, second-half tries from wings Juan Imhoff and Gonzalo Camacho left the reigning RBS Six Nations Grand Slam champions reeling.
And to make matters worse, Wales also suffered a double injury blow when centre Jamie Roberts and lock Alun-Wyn Jones departed inside the opening 40 minutes.
Full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked all Wales’ points, but they were outplayed by a Pumas team battle-hardened from recent home and away appointments with New Zealand, Australia and South Africa in the southern hemisphere’s inaugural Championship. Fly-half Nicolas Sanchez weighed in with two drop-goals, two conversions and a penalty, while veteran centre Felipe Contepomi kicked a penalty before he was forced off injured after just ten minutes.
Pumas skipper Juan Fernandez Lobbe, who put in a man-of-the-match performance, said the win was reward for hard work. “This is a great win for us. We have been searching for this win for a long time as a group,” he said. “The most important thing for us was to try to get that first win. We are happy to do it against such a good team.”
Scorers. Wales: Pens: Halfpenny 4. Argentina: Tries: Camacho, Imhoff; Cons: Sanchez 2; Pens: Contepomi, Sanchez
Drops: Sanchez 2.
Wales: L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, S Williams, J Roberts, G North; R Priestland, T Knoyle; G Jenkins, M Rees, A Jarvis, A-W Jones, I Evans, J Turnbull, S Warburton, T Falatau. Subs used: R Hibbard, R Bevington, P James, R McCusker, J Tipuric, M Phillips, J Hook.
Argentina: J M Hernandez; G Camacho, G Tiesi, Felipe Contepomi, J J Imhoff; N Sanchez, M Landajo; M Ayerza, E Guinazu, J Figallo, M Carizza, J F Cabello, J M Fernandez Lobbe, J M Leguizamon, L Senatore. Subs used: J Tuculet A Creevy, B Postiglioni, F G Kodela, T Valleyos Cinalli, T Leonardi, N Vergallo, H Agulla.
Referee: R Poite (France). Attendance: 72,896.