Pumas pound Europe’s best

SIMON BORCHARDT saw Argentina score two second-half tries to beat Six Nations champions Wales 26-12 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

With Wales leading 12-9 after what had been a largely forgettable 55 minutes, Pumas left wing Juan Imhoff blew the game open with an excellent try that saw him round fullback Leigh Halfpenny.

Five minutes later, right winger Gonzalo Camacho scored in the corner and flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez nailed the touchline conversion.

Sanchez then slotted a 72nd-minute penalty that meant Wales, who had offered nothing on attack, needed to score two converted tries to draw level.  It was never going to happen and the Pumas, who were captained by Man of the Match Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, claimed a famous victory.

While Argentina dominated the second half, the first was highly competitive.

Felipe Contepomi and Halfpenny exchanged early penalties, before Sanchez put the Pumas back in front with the first drop goal of his Test career.

The visitors then suffered a big setback when Contepomi, who was set to retire after the Pumas’ final Test of this tour against Ireland, tore knee ligaments and left the field on a stretcher. It was a sad way for the veteran’s 14-year international career to end.

After Halfpenny’s second penalty had levelled the scores again, Argentina had the best try-scoring opportunity of the half when they forced a turnover and sent the ball wide to Imhoff, who kicked ahead for Gonzalo Tiesi. But the midfielder knocked on 5m out when attempting to pick up the loose ball.

Wales also lost their inside centre when Jamie Roberts took a heavy knock to the head, before another Halfpenny penalty edged them ahead 9-6.

Sanchez should have levelled the scores early in the second half but his penalty attempt hit the left-hand upright. He had another opportunity a minute later but slipped just before he struck the ball.

Halfpenny had no problems with his fourth penalty, before Sanchez made amends with his second drop goal.

Then came the two Pumas tries that stunned the 51 000 crowd and drew first blood for the southern hemisphere this November.