There are no two ways to say it but Wales have been the stand out rugby side so far from the Northern Hemisphere against Southern Hemisphere opposition. Mixing youth and old experienced heads they have produced a fantastic branding of hard yards and razor sharp attack.
They outfought South Africa. Granted it was not a full strength Boks and not at home or at altitude. But don’t take anything away from that performance. For Wales to fight to the 80th minute and nick it at the death is a huge watershed and a massive monkey off their backs. How many times in the past have Wales collapsed or had a massive brainfart in the last 5 minutes, like kicking the ball to Kurtley Beale, to surrender the result.
I watched the Argentina match last week with fascination and huge disappointment at the Pumas poor performance. Yes, they play together as a club side. Yes, against Wales they played together as a club side and got punished. Playing an international test is a hugely different mind-set. You have to control the match, control territory and pace. They did nothing except kick the ball away, run into the brick wall of the Welsh defence and bizarrely failed to take 9 points on offer from penalties. You must kick those penalties and keep the scoreboard ticking over. You would have thought they would have learnt from the first set of penalties that Wales were not going to let them in with a forwards driving maul. But they kept battering away. The Captain needs a severe kicking or changing from the stubborn, blinkered Creevy. The hazard of your Captain being a hooker.
Now you could argue that Wales had an easy ride. But you can only play what is put in front of you. How you play what is against you is the point. They control the match completely and never looked like letting in Argentina until right near the end when the Pumas eventually got that a bit of creativity, great running angles and a flat line was what was need. Wales contained them and then counterattacked with precision, speed and without mercy. It was easy. I think Rhys Patchell was fortunate not to be carded. I think the referee was right on the tackle in the aired being mistimed but in wrapping his arms around as well he put himself at risk. Another referee on another day would also have carded a Welsh forward for the persistent offending at the breakdown and slowing down the Pumas ball. But hey you do what you can get away with, it’s called being streetwise.
Will Argentina provide a stiffer test on Saturday? Who knows but I can’t see it
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