Wales overcome mounting injury toll to hold off rusty Argentina

Wales 28 Argentina 13

Martyn Williams knew it was the end of something and paid the moment its due, bandying the word "privilege" around as though it were going out of fashion and talking about "living the dream". The last of his many international appearances on his beloved Welsh soil had ended in victory, he had pilfered his share of Argentine possession and had discharged his duties as stand-in captain with customary aplomb. He had also retired early with a bashed-up face. Such is the way of it with open-side flankers.

The question is this: did the World Cup warm-up victory over the South Americans at the weekend signal Williams's retirement from the Test arena? Having been overtaken in the Red Dragon pecking order by Sam Warburton – a very different brand of breakaway but one capable of being every bit as influential – he is among a handful of loose forwards thought to be chasing a single place in the 30-man party for the forthcoming tournament and will discover today if he has been included.

Naturally, he was asked about his chances on Saturday evening. Naturally, he dead-batted the inquiries in Boycottesque fashion. If he did not sound terribly optimistic, it was understandable: the man charged with making the decision, the head coach Warren Gatland, was sitting immediately to his left with an inscrutable look on his face. This much is certain, though: there is not a rugby follower in Christendom who would begrudge Williams a last hurrah, and a 100th Welsh cap, in All Black country.

Having lost one Lions Test front-rower, the hooker Matthew Rees, to injury, Gatland is now deeply concerned that another, the prop Gethin Jenkins, will not recover from a calf problem in time to play a meaningful role in the competition. This alone should concentrate his mind on the Williams issue, for hard-won experience counts for an awful lot when World Cup campaigns come round. If the selectors omit their longest-serving forward, it will be a mighty big call.

Encouraged by the welcome return to form of the lock Alun Wyn Jones, who scored the best of his team's three tries by supporting a long-range attack launched by Tavis Knoyle and maximised by Jamie Roberts and the deeply impressive George North, the coach can head for his native New Zealand with a clear view of the road ahead.

Argentina, who face England in their opening pool game, are still trying to find their way out of the woods. They looked as powerful as ever up front – a couple of their less familiar forwards, notably the substitute hooker Agustin Creevy and the new blindside flanker Julio Farias Cabello, seemed freakishly strong – and started the game at an aggressive tempo, but dozens of small errors undermined them in this, their only serious preparatory contest.

"Apart from the last three minutes of the first half and the final moments of the second, two periods in which we conceded 17 points, we were competitive," argued their captain Felipe Contepomi, whose own kicking game left something to be desired. "When we were able to keep our structure, we did well. Our problem was individual mistakes – small errors of handling and decision-making.

"This is not an excuse for defeat. I am simply saying that now is the time for analysis, for detail. If we are 100 per cent and England are 100 per cent, maybe they are better than us. But it will depend who clicks during the 80 minutes."

They will be no pushovers, although the loss of the outside-half Juan Martin Hernandez to injury robs them of the element of surprise outside the scrum. Contepomi, the best inside centre in the tournament when the Pumas finished third in France four years ago, does not look quite as authoritative in the No 10 position, although his defensive work on Saturday was of its usual high standard.

If the skipper was reluctant to make a firm prediction ahead of the England game in Dunedin, the Wales prop Adam Jones was happy to engage in a little soothsaying. "It should be exhilarating," said the prop, who transformed the Wales scrum on his return to meaningful activity.

"Perhaps 3-0 to England with Wilkinson kicking a penalty." He was joking, of course. Wasn't he?

Scorers: Wales: Tries Powell, A W Jones, North. Conversions Hook 2 Penalties Hook 3. Argentina: Try Scelzo. Conversion Contepomi. Penalties Contepomi 2.

Wales: L Byrne (Clermont Auvergne); L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), G North (Scarlets); J Hook (Perpignan), T Knoyle (Scarlets); P James (Ospreys), R Hibbard (Ospreys), A Jones (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), A W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), M Williams (Cardiff Blues, capt), A Powell (Sale).

Replacements: A Brew (NG Dragons) for Byrne 58; J Thomas (Ospreys) for Lydiate 58; L Williams (Cardiff Blues) for Knoyle 63; H Bennett (Ospreys) for Hibbard 63; R Bevington (Ospreys) for A Jones 63; J Tipuric (Ospreys) for M Williams 63; S Williams (Scarlets) for Roberts 70.

Argentina: M Rodriguez (Stade Francais); H Agulla (Leicester), M Bosch (Biarritz), S Fernandez (Montpellier), G Camacho (Exeter); F Contepomi (Stade Francais, capt), N Vergallo (Dax); R Roncero (Stade Francais), M Ledesma (Clermont Auvergne), J Figallo (Montpellier), M Carizza (Biarritz), P Albacete (Toulouse), J F Cabello (Tucuman), J M Leguizamon (Lyon), J M Fernandez Lobbe (Toulon).

Replacements: J Imhoff (Duendes) for Camacho h-t; M Scelzo (Agen) for Figallo h-t; A Creevy (Montpellier) for Ledesma 51; A Campos (Agen) for Leguizamon 68; Figallo for Roncero 71; M Galarza (unattached) for Carizza 74.

Referee: R Poite (France).

Suggested Topics
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam