Francis figures in Welsh win
By Mark Stevens
Warren Gatland targeted a clean sweep of victories on Wales’ summer tour after watching his side - which included Exeter Chiefs prop Tomas Francis - seal a hugely impressive 23-10 win over Argentina in San Juan.
At the Estadio del Bicenternario, first-half tries from man of the match James Davies and George North laid the platform for Wales’ success as fly-half Rhys Patchell kicked 10 points.
Against an experienced Argentina side – whose match day squad was entirely made up of players from Super Rugby outfit Jaguares – Wales’ young pack stood up impressively.
“We’ve just spoken in the changing rooms about being two from two and wanting to make a clean sweep of it,” said Gatland, whose team also downed South Africa 22-20 in Washington.
“It was a fantastic performance from the boys. We were under a bit of pressure in terms of territory and possession, but we knew how important our defensive display was going to be.
“The guys have trained well all week and they fronted up. That’s what we asked of them and as a coaching team, you can’t ask for any more than that. They put their bodies on the line.
“They gave it everything so it’s a really pleasing performance for us.”
Nicolas Sanchez’s penalty gave Argentina an early lead, but from then on in Wales never really looked like going down to defeat as they countered their giant opposition.
Hallam Amos’ fine offload set up the excellent Davies and then a break from scrum-half Gareth Davies laid the platform for what was an easy finish for North.
Patchell converted both scores and kicked a penalty for a 17-3 half-time lead. Three more points from Patchell settled Welsh nerves when the game resumed and effectively ended the contest.
Tomas Lezana grabbed a late consolation for Argentina which Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias converted, but Gareth Anscombe’s penalty with the last kick of the game sealed things for Wales.
“We feel like we’re in a really good place at the moment and we’re really looking forward to the next 12 to 14 months and on to Japan for the World Cup,” Gatland said.
“We took a couple of opportunities. We’d identified that there was a little bit of space at the back of the line-out where Gareth Davies has gone through and George has scored.
“We’ve taken our three points as well and I thought the way we controlled the game for long periods was pretty good, particularly just before half time.”
Wales will face Argentina in Santa Fe in Saturday’s second Test looking to clinch their first series victory in the land of the Pumas since 1999.