Dragons in search of morale-boosting win
WALES and Argentina have reputations to restore in their intriguing clash here on Saturday.
The proud rugby nations have slipped to eighth and seventh in the world rankings respectively.
Wales gained a name as being one of the hardest teams to play against in Europe under their New Zealand coach Warren Gatland, but after seeing their 56-year wait for victory against the All Blacks continue, they failed to inspire in last week’s 19-13 win over Samoa.
Scoring tries has also become an issue for a team regarded as the most creative in Britain, and Wales have managed having just two in their last four games here at the Millennium Stadium.
However, victory against Argentina could see them leapfrog England into sixth place in the rankings and set them up perfectly ahead of next week’s home Test against Australia.
“We expect a tough encounter but we want to play some rugby,” said Gatland. “We expect Argentina to kick a lot of ball so it’s up to our back three to counter attack when there are chances, but we have to be smart and not run into brick walls.”
Wales have made five changes with recalls for British and Irish Lions Stephen Jones, Shane Williams, Martyn Williams, Matthew Rees and Gareth Cooper as well as a first home start for 21year-old centre Jonathan Davies, included after Tom Shanklin broke his nose.
Gatland has kept faith with novice tighthead prop Paul James and played down the anticipated onslaught from the Pumas’ scrum, regarded as one of the most destructive in world rugby.
“We want to continue with this front-row because you have to back yourself at this level,” former hooker Gatland explained.
“It’s about not going into a game putting the Argentina scrum up on a pedestal. They’re not the greatest scrummaging threat in world rugby.”
Nevertheless, Argentina have won four of their last six Tests against Wales, including their only success in Cardiff in 2001, and show just two changes to the side that frustrated England before going down 16-9 late on at Twickenham last weekend.
Agustin Figuerola has replaced London Irish scrum-half Alfredo Lalanne while lock Mariano Sambucetti has returned in place of Esteban Lozada.
“That was a missed opportunity against England,” said Argentina coach Santiago Phelan. “The players played with pride but we should have attacked them more and that is something we want to improve. We have a good scrum but that is only part of the game. Perhaps we kicked too much and we need to improve our lineout.” – Sapa-AFP