Dragons in search of morale-boost­ing win

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - BY MATT LLOYD

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

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