Wales 12 Argentina 26
A TRULY awful Wales were hammered by the plucky Los Pumas of Argentina to succumb to a fourth successive defeat that sees the alarm bells truly ringing for caretaker coach Rob Howley.
With Samoa, New Zealand and Australia to come, Wales are in serious danger of a whitewash this autumn.
While Argentina played with passion and purpose, the home side were a rabble in contrast and created next to nothing.
As the game wore on, the home scrum disintegrated and the lineout became the old familiar lottery.
Wales look toothless upfront without the likes of Adam Jones, Dan Lydiate and Ryan Jones, bullied by the far superior Argentina eight.
The back row, Newport Gwent Dragons No 8 Toby Faletau aside, were anonymous, captain and openside Sam Warburton and blindside Josh Turnbull both terrible and outplayed by the superb Argentina back row.
The Grand Slam joy of last March seems a million miles away.
A turgid and eminently forgettable first half saw Wales lead 9-6 at the interval after three Leigh Halfpenny penalties to one by Felipe Contepomi and a drop goal by outside half Nicolas Sanchez.
The stories of the half were tight defences and the big injury toll, Los Pumas’ star veteran centre Felipe Contepomi stretchered off after just 13 minutes.
His opposite number Jamie Roberts followed him off the field just ten minutes later after he picked up a bump on the chin, the French bound Cardiff Blues man replaced by Perpignan’s James Hook.
Wales didn’t get into the visitors’ half until the 37th minute when George North and Alex Cuthbert were used as battering rams but excellent defence kept them out, the hosts conceded a penalty.
Argentina came close to scoring a breakaway try just before half time as did Wales when Hook hacked on in the dying seconds.
And there was further bad news before the interval when lock Alun Wyn Jones was forced off with an arm injury to be replaced by Scarlets captain, back rower Rob McCusker, Wales not having a second row on the bench.
Sanchez could have put Argentina at least level when he missed two kickable penalties at the start of the second half.
But it was Halfpenny who stretched Wales’ lead when he kicked his fourth penalty after 48 minutes to put them 12-6 up.
Sanchez clawed back three points soon after with his second drop goal.
Juan Imhoff’s great finish, and some poor defence by Halfpenny, gave Los Pumas the lead they thoroughly deserved after 55 minutes, his try converted by Sanchez.
Another superb finish saw fellow wing Gonzalo Camacho cross in the corner after 60 minutes, Sanchez nailing a superb conversion.
The score was 23-12 and a poor Wales were all at sea.
They lamely threatened to make a game of it in the last quarter but the closest they came was when replacement McCusker butchered a stick on try that would have given the dreadful hosts a consolation score they scarcely deserved.
Wales were booed off the field by the fans who had the stomach to stay until the end.
Wales scorers: Penalties – Leigh Halfpenny (6, 14, 26, 48).
Argentina scorers: Tries – Juan Imhoff (55), Gonzalo Camacho (60), Conversions – Nicolas Sanchez (55, 60), Penalties – Felipe Contepomi (4), Drop goals – N Sanchez (10, 52, 72)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
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