Argentina 45 Wales 27: Bleak defeat for Jenkins

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The Independent Online

Wales lost a series for the first time in Argentina as the Pumas overpowered them at Velez Sarsfeld to make it four wins in their last five meetings.

If there was plenty for the new head coach Gareth Jenkins to feel enthused about after the First Test in Patagonia, there was little to cheer here apart from two long-range tries at the death.

And the problem for Jenkins is that he will return to plan for even tougher Tests ahead in the autumn, when Australia kick-off a four-match series in November that concludes with a game against the All Blacks. The good news,though, is that with 21 senior players unavailable for this tour, Jenkins will return to find quality in abundance ready to build towards the 2007 World Cup.

Regardless of the scoreline here, he can reflect on a solid front five, new-found forward talent in Ian Evans and Alun Wyn Jones and plenty of promise from the fit-again Jamie Robinson and newcomer James Hook. Hook was given his first chance to start at centre after scoring a try as a replacement on debut last weekend and learned a few harsh lessons. He missed with his first kick at goal, had a clearance charged down by Felipe Contepomi that led to the game's first try and then got sent to the sin-bin in the second half.

The pumped-up Pumas raced into a 13-point lead through that charged down try by Gonzalo Tiesi and the metronomic boot of Federico Todeschini. The little outside-half ended up with a match tally of 30 points, 11 of which came in the first half.

Hook recovered to notch two penalties to reduce the half-time deficit to 10 points, but it was already a rearguard action by then, which became increasingly desperate after the break. Within two minutes of the re-start Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe had streaked in to score his second try in the series and then the London Irish centre Tiesi ran in his second.

Consolation tries from Gareth Delve, Shane Williams and Lee Byrne saved Welsh blushes, but it was much too little too late to stop the Pumas enjoying a record win over Wales.

Argentina: J M Hernandez; F Leonelli (J M Nunez Piossek, 75), G Tiesi, F Contepomi (F Serra, 73), L Borges; F Todeschini, A Pichot (capt; N Miranda, 70); R Roncero (M Ayerza, 73), M Ledesma (P Gambarini, 75), M Scelzo, I Fernandez Lobbe (M Carizza, 64), R A Kairelis, J M Fernandez Lobbe, G Longo, M Durand (M Schusterman, 55).

Wales: L Byrne; M Jones, J Robinson (M Watkins, 34), J Hook, S Williams; N Robinson, M Phillips (A Williams, 67); D Jones (capt), H Bennett (R Hibbert, 67), A Jones (R Thomas, 57), I Evans, I Gough, A Wyn Jones, A Popham (G Delve, 41), G Thomas.

Referee: D Pearson (England).

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