Wales suffered a heavy defeat to bring the summer international series to a close as Argentina put Wayne Pivac’s men to the sword at the Principality Stadium.
The head coach had made a number of changes to the team that drew the previous weekend, with Gareth Thomas and Leon Brown forming a new propping pair, Josh Turnbull starting in the back row, Tomos Williams and Jarrod Evans in at half-back, Nick Tompkins getting the nod at centre and Tom Rogers returning to the back three.
Both sides had opportunities to score early, as Wales fumbled in the opposition 22 before Argentina missed a penalty kick, but it was the hosts who got the scoreboard moving as Jarrod Evans, Nick Tompkins and Jon Davies combined to release Owen Lane who showed off his pace and power in beating two defenders and scoring in the corner.
Unfortunately the lead lasted merely minutes as Josh Turnbull fumbled the kick off reception and from the resulting scrum Los Pumas launched a physical high-tempo attack that finished with winger Mattias Moroni powering over. Nicolas Sanchez added the extras.
That attacking template continued to serve Argentina well as the first half rumbled on, with low-risk, high-tempo and high physicality rugby seeing them maintain possession, consistently get over the gain line and exert pressure on the hosts until a penalty was conceded. One penalty kicked to the corner should have resulted in a try but the ball was spilled over the line, however Sanchez was able to add three from the tee.
Eventually the second try did come for the visitors as Jarrod Evans failed to deal with a kick through and conceded a scrum. Some big carries took them into the red zone and scrum-half Tomas Cubelli was able to snipe over, with Sanchez converting.
Jarrod Evans was able to cut the lead by three points as Argentina were penalised as they tried to clear immediately from kick-off, making the score 8-17 at half-time, and after a tense opening first 10 minutes of the first half, he was back on the tee again to get Wales within six points.
That was as close as the home side got though as Los Pumas spent the last 25 minutes pulling away, starting with the boot of Sanchez before Hallam Amos was shown a yellow card for a tackle in the air and 10-minutes playing with 14-men proved costly.
Sanchez added six more points to the board as Wales’ unforced error count increased rapidly and struggles at the set piece led to penalties, before the nail in the coffin saw Pablo Matera cross for a late converted try that made the final score 11-33 to the Argentinians.
A tough final outing for this Wales squad, but with so many stars either injured or away with the British and Irish Lions, hopefully an experience like the last two weeks in camp and up against a full-strength Argentina outfit will be beneficial for the young and fringe players of the national team, rather than scarring.
It falls to Wayne Pivac and his coaching team to ensure learning points are picked up and individuals make improvements so that by the time the 2023 Rugby World Cup comes around the strength in depth is available to finally push beyond the semi-finals.