Argentina impress with Cardiff victory
Autumn international round-up: Wales’hopes of securing a top-four seeding in the 2015 World Cup nosedived after Argentinastunned them with a 26-12 victory at the Millennium Stadium.
Eleven years to the day following Argentina’s only previous victory over Wales in Cardiff, second-half tries from wings Juan Imhoff and Gonzalo Camacho left the reigning Six Nations champions reeling.
And to make matters worse, Wales also suffered a double injury blow when centre Jamie Roberts and lock Alun-Wyn Jones departed inside the opening 40 minutes.
Fullback Leigh Halfpenny kicked all Wales’ points, but they were outplayed by a Pumas team battle-hardened from recent home and away appointments with New Zealand, Australia and South Africa in the southern hemisphere’s inaugural Rugby Championship.
Outhalf Nicolas Sanchez weighed in with two drop-goals, two conversions and a penalty, while veteran centre Felipe Contepomi kicked a penalty before he was forced off injured after just 10 minutes.
Wales’ interim head coach Rob Howley, in charge while Warren Gatland begins preparations for heading up next summer’s Lions tour to Australia, will have been dismayed by some of his side’s lethargy.
It was Wales’ fourth defeat on the bounce, their first at home since last December and a loss that leaves them with little chance of securing a top four ranking on which top seeds will based prior to the World Cup draw early next month.
They have Samoa, New Zealand and Australia still to come over the next three weeks, with Wales having not beaten the All Blacks since 1953 and suffered seven successive defeats at the Wallabies’ hands.
And Wales’ day was summed up three minutes from time when substitute backrow forward Rob McCusker burst through only to blissfully ignored three unmarked team-mates outside him.
It was the final misguided act by Wales, with their players booed off by many in a 51,000-strong crowd.
Englandovercame a rusty start to sweep past Fiji54-12 in the first of their four Twickenham internationals as Stuart Lancaster’s fledgling side ran in seven tries for a record victory against the outclassed islanders.
After being forced onto the back foot for the opening quarter, England, with their most inexperienced line-up for years, settled and quickly took complete command to lead 25-0 at the break with tries by wingers Charlie Sharples and Ugo Monye and a penalty try.
Flanker Tom Johnson, a second for Sharples and two for Manu Tuilagi reflected England's continuing dominance, although scrumhalf Nikola Matawalu scored a typically adventurous 65-metre try and Seko Kalou also crossed for the visitors.
Italysecured a tough 28-23 win over Tongain Brescia. First-half tries to frontrowers Lorenzo Cittadini and Leonardo Ghiraldini, as well as a penalty try awarded just after the hour, were enough to see the Azzurri to their third straight win.