WALES began their Autumn international series with an abject defeat to Australia on Saturday, but have the chance to get back on track this weekend when Argentina visit the Principality Stadium.
The Pumas won their first game of the Autumn against Japan on Saturday, following their Rugby Championship campaign where they beat South Africa but still finished bottom of the table.
So what can Wales expect when they welcome the South Americans to Cardiff?
- Attacking rugby – and plenty of tries
Australia ripped Wales’s defence to shreds on Saturday with their direct, running rugby and things are not going to get any easier against Argentina.
The Pumas love to run at defenders and attempt spectacular offloads, a tactic which usually results in a lot of tries, much like the classic French teams of the 1990s.
Fly-half Nicolas Sanchez, who scored two tries in the win over Japan and 22-year-old wing Santiago Cordero are the key backs to watch out for.
- Grunt up front
Argentina aren’t all about running though and they still possess a formidable pack that can compete on an equal footing with the Northern Hemisphere teams.
Hooker Augustin Creevy, Argentina’s captain, is an experienced and wily scrummager and will really fancy his chances against Ken Owens in their direct battle.
Creevy is ably supported by the rest of his pack. One forward to watch out for will be second row Guido Petti Pagadizabal, 21, who has already played 21 times for his country.
- Familiarity with each other
Argentina stepped onto the global club stage in 2016 with the introduction of their rugby franchise ‘the Jaguares’ into Super Rugby.
This means that virtually all of the team play together week-in-week-out against teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
There are no other international teams on the planet who train and play together as regularly as Argentina. This gives them a big advantage.
- But…Wales will have chances to score
The downside of playing rugby as expansively as Argentina do is that they leave themselves open to being hit on the counter attack.
The Pumas dangerous backs love to throw some questionable offloads which could easily be intercepted, as well as trying to run the ball from their own 22, inviting pressure in dangerous areas.
Wales will get chances, and they can score plenty of points if Argentina are a little off colour.
- An even game
Wales will obviously have to improve massively if they are to compete against Argentina, but the Pumas, for all of their quality, are less of a challenge than Australia.
Despite their attacking flair, Argentina still finished bottom of the Rugby Championship table, losing to Australia twice – 36-20 away and 33-21 at home.
They are good, but not as good as the Wallabies. This should be a much closer game than last weekend’s defeat for Wales.