Tries from Harri Morgan and Ryan Conbeer, as well as 20 points from the boot of Cai Evans, secured a memorable opening win for Wales U20 at the World Rugby U20 Championships.
Head coach Gareth Williams had largely stuck with the side that was together during the U20 Six Nations, with only second row Morgan Jones not featuring at all in that competition. Kemsley Mathias was preferred to Rhys Davies at loosehead, Jac Morgan ahead of Iestyn Rees at number eight, while there were spots for Wales Sevens players Rio Dyer and Ryan Conbeer on the wings.
Unfortunately he was forced into an early change after a sickening clash of heads forced Aneurin Owen from the field, replaced by Max Llewellyn at outside centre, but the Welsh retained their composure to force a kickable penalty and Cai Evans put us ahead.
Argentina worked their way back into the game though, with Ryan Conbeer producing a superb try saving tackle on Gonzalo Garcia, before on the next attack saw Mateo Carreras chip and chase down the left wing, get pulled down short but loosehead prop Francisco Minervino was on hand to burrow over.
Geronimo Prisciantelli converted and added a penalty a few minutes later, with his forwards doing an excellent job in contact to put Wales on the back foot and the Welsh boys struggling to string phases together when in possession.
However, a moment of magic can change everything and it was produced by Harri Morgan and Rio Dyer on the half-hour mark as the scrum-half chipped through perfectly for his winger to chase and then offload back to the Osprey for a superb score.
Evans’ conversion cannoned off the upright but a penalty won on the floor by Jac Morgan a few minutes later allowed him to nude Wales ahead at the break.
Argentina were the first out of the traps in the second half, as Bautista Pedemonte stormed off the back of a scrum before Carreras made tracks down the left again. A quick recycle allowed Prisciantelli to kick pass perfectly for Rodrigo Isgro to score.
Wales retained the lead though through the boot of Cai Evans with three superb penalty kicks, the second of which from just inside his own half.
It seemed like the Welsh may kick on when Argentina were reduced to 14-men when the referee lost patience with their persistent infringing, however the hosts were able to dominate the 10 minutes and even nudge themselves back in front.
A fairly tame looking attack saw the ball moved to full-back Ignacio Mendy who broke the tackle of Max Llewellyn before speeding away under the posts before another hand could be laid upon him.
Despite a disappointing period with a man advantage, the Welsh weren’t prepared to go down without a fight and a second moment of magic got us over the line again as Ryan Conbeer popped up at first receiver, broke a tackle and headed over, Evans converting for a 22-27 lead with just under 15 minutes to go.
At this point the tension was really ramping up as Argentina were fighting to stay alive but Wales maintained control, forcing Los Pumitas to infringe twice more, with the first resulting in a kick into their 22, and the second allowing Evans to make it an eight point lead inside the last 10 minutes.
The hosts hit back quickly with a penalty they chose to kick to bring them within a try of the young Welshmen, and when the referee awarded them three quick penalties to advance down the field it felt as if a heartbreaking score was coming.
However, Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler produced a fantastic rip with the clock red and Wales secured an opening day 25-30 win.
Two superb tries and 20 points from the boot of Cai Evans were what mattered on the scoreboard, but a huge defensive performance secured the win for Gareth Williams’ men as they met the challenge of Argentina physically and in an organised manner that belied their U20 ages.
They will now need to patch up a few injuries and recover some of the very tired legs at the end of the game as the prospect of reigning champions France approaches on Saturday.