Rugby Union: Jenkins ignites the fightback

Argentina 26 Wales 36 Tries:Bartolucci, Quesada Tries: James, Sinkinson, Cons: Quesada 2 C Wyatt Pens: Quesada 4 Cons: N Jenkins 3 Pens: N Jenkins 4 Drop goal: Howarth Half-time: 23-10
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The Independent Online
WALES ARE making a habit of coming back late to win matches, but this was an even bigger fightback than at Wembley two months ago.

When they found themselves 23 points adrift after only 35 minutes it looked as though all the psychological points would go the way of the Pumas in the build-up to that vital World Cup opener at the Millennium Stadium on 1 October. The home side, urged on by a typically passionate crowd, looked cool, calm and totally composed. They conjured up two tries, turned the ball over almost at will and were expansive rather than dogged.

That certainly wasn't the way the script had been predicted by the Welsh party. They had done their homework based on the mauling their forwards had received when they just managed to hold on to win 43-30 at Stradey Park in November.

This time, though, the Welsh front five more than matched the much vaunted Pumas pack. Instead, it was the home back row who did all the damage in a blistering start. Two penalties from Gonzalo Quesada got the scoreboard moving, but the real damage was done in three dreadful minutes for Wales at the start of the second quarter.

Missed tackles were the cause of Quesada exploiting a gap to race 30 metres to score and then the giant wing Octavio Bartolucci crashed his way over. Quesada kept adding the points and with his reliable boot and there seemed nowhere for Wales to hide at 23-0.

But one of the great things that Graham Henry has instilled in his men is belief. He asked them to play an expansive game, and they came up with a vital try in injury time at the end of the first-half. A Jenkins penalty four minutes earlier helped to steady the ship and then the outside- half fed his Pontypridd team-mate Dafydd James on the left wing to cross for his sixth Test try. Jenkins converted and the gap was suddenly only 13 points.

Whatever Henry said to his players at half-time it certainly did the trick. A second Jenkins penalty cut the deficit further and then he booted his team down into the corner with a 50 metre raking penalty kick. From the line-out, Chris Wyatt fed Craig Quinnell who then sent Brett Sinkinson over for a try which Jenkins converted.

It was fitting that Sinkinson got the try because he was superb from start to finish. From his lead developed a dramatic fightback as it became the Pumas' turn to be on the receiving end. After 63 minutes Jenkins tied the scores with his third penalty, although Quesada kicked the home side ahead three minutes later with a goal of his own. Shane Howarth trumped that with a 40-metre dropped goal before the coup de grace was delivered by Wyatt after 74 minutes.

The Llanelli lock won the line-out on the Pumas' 22 and Allan Bateman and Mark Taylor drove on and Wyatt popped up on Taylor's shoulder to take a scoring pass. Jenkins converted, added a penalty for good measure and Wales were celebrating another get out of jail victory.

Argentina: D Albanese (San Isidoro); O Bartolucci (Ath del Rossario), E Simoni (Liceo Naval), L Arbizu (Brive), E Durado (Jockey Club); G Quesada (Hindu), A Pichot (Richmond); M Reggiardo (Castres), F Mendez (Northampton), R Grau (Saracens), P Sporleda (Curupayti, capt), A Allub (Jockey Club), I Lobbe (Liceo Naval), P-J Camerlinckx (Bella Vista), R Martin (San Isidoro). Replacements: O Hasan (Auch) for Grau 41; L Ostiglia (Hindu) for Allub 55.

Wales: S Howarth (Sale); M Robinson, M Taylor (Swansea), A Bateman (Northampton), D James; N Jenkins (Pontypridd), R Howley (Cardiff, capt); P Rogers (Newport), G Jenkins, B Evans (Swansea), C Quinnell (Cardiff), C Wyatt (Llanelli), C Charvis (Swansea), S Quinnell (Llanelli), B Sinkinson (Neath). Replacements: D Young (Cardiff) for Evans 75; A Lewis (Cardiff) for Rogers 75.

Referee: B Campsall (England)