Preview: Wales v Argentina

Date published: November 11 2016

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Wales will be desperate to right the wrongs from their loss to Australia when they host Argentina at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.

It was a disastrous performance from Rob Howley’s side as the Wallabies tore them to pieces with an attacking game that, while not overly elaborate, was done effectively. Put simply the Welsh defence was breached far too easily last weekend and must improve against the Pumas.

Howley has wielded the axe, as out goes Alex Cuthbert and Jamie Roberts from the backline, Liam Williams and Jonathan Davies replace them. The return of that duo, Alun-Wyn Jones and Sam Warburton is a boost but has seven days been enough time to fix what was so poor last week?

Play like that again and this Pumas outfit will do exactly the same to Wales, with Martín Landajo and Nicolás Sánchez smooth operators. If they don’t pick holes then make no mistake that Pablo Matera, Agustín Creevy, Ramiro Herrera and Facundo Isa will do via the direct route.

Daniel Hourcade has a team that’s building nicely and will be a force once again when the World Cup comes around. There’s a good blend of youth and experience and Juan Martín Hernández’s return at inside centre will crucially give them another option in their attacking game.

Up front is where this battle will be won and lost and if the Pumas do get on top there expect Landajo, Sánchez and Hernández to turn the screw with their boot. Hernández in particular punishes opposing teams by finding the corners from penalties, allowing his pack to strike.

As mentioned though, if Wales don’t fix their defence from the off then easy metres and points will come Argentina’s way, with the first-phase defence worryingly pedestrian last week. That ultimately cost Roberts his place, with boss Howley making the bold call to drop him.

Whether that performance was, in cricketing terms, a loosener from Wales remains to be seen but any slip-ups on Saturday will be punished in what is a major opportunity for the Pumas to repeat their victory of 2012 at this very ground. Judging from recent form, it is very possible.

Players to watch:

For Wales: The return of Liam Williams on the wing is a major fillip for the Welsh as he has been one of their stand-out players over the past year or two. Alex Cuthbert didn’t set the bar too high last weekend but with Williams there’s a guarantee of high energy and passion.

For Argentina: The Pumas are a different team with Juan Martín Hernández at inside centre. Taking some of the pressure off Nicolás Sánchez, the veteran is one of the best touch-finders in the game and those metres are always welcome when Argentina want to launch a driving maul.

Head-to-head: We look at the front-row here where Gethin Jenkins and Ramiro Herrera clash. Jenkins gets through a huge amount of work and his turnovers at the breakdown has got Wales out of trouble on many an occasion over the years. Herrera in contrast is a real force with ball in hand so with differing strengths, these two prop forwards are worth keeping an eye on not just when they face off at scrum time.

Previous results:

2013: Wales won 40-6 in Cardiff
2012: Argentina won 26-12 in Cardiff
2011: Wales won 28-13 in Cardiff
2009: Wales won 33-16 in Cardiff
2007: Wales won 27-20 in Cardiff

Prediction: It would be some achievement for Wales to put everything right from last week and that is why we go for Argentina by 5.

The teams:

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 (c)
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 (c), 1 Lucas Noguera
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Leonardo Senatore, 20 Tomás Lezana, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Santiago Cordero

Date: Saturday, November 12
Venue: Principality Stadium
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Luke Pearce (England)
TMO: Shaun Davey (England)

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