Wales got their Autumn Nations Series campaign back on track by beating Argentina 20-13 in a test match showdown at the Principality Stadium.
Just seven days after dispatching 55 points against New Zealand, Wales reacted strongly as tries from number eight Taulupe Faletau and scrum-half Tomos Williams brought them home.
Argentina, recent winners of the All Blacks, England and Australia, were held at bay by a defensive red wall as Michael Cheika’s men endured a night to forget.
It was a welcome result for Wales head coach Wayne Pivac, who has overseen just a third win this year.
Fly-half Gareth Anscombe kicked two conversions and a penalty, while Rhys Priestland added a second-half penalty as Wales turned the screw.
Winger Emiliano Boffelli picked up two penalties for the Pumas and prop Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro added a try which Boffelli converted but they couldn’t replicate the intensity and organization that saw them defeat England at Twickenham six days ago.
Pivac made three personnel changes after that 55-23 loss seven days ago, calling up winger Alex Cuthbert, prop Dillon Lewis and flanker Dan Lydiate.
Argentina, meanwhile, were without captain Julian Montoya with a rib injury, so Agustin Creevy replaced hooker and number eight Pablo Matera took over as skipper.
The Wales players wore black armbands in memory of Lydiate’s father, John, who died last weekend.
Rees-Zammit and winger Rio Dyer, a try scorer on his debut against New Zealand, were soon brought into the action but the Argentine comfortably withstood the early pressure and Boffelli launched a penalty in the eighth minute.
A successful second penalty from Boffelli doubled Argentina’s advantage five minutes later, and Wales finished the first quarter 6–0 behind.
The Wales strikers grew into the game and should have opened their account after 27 minutes, but hooker Ken Owens knocked the ball down as he tried to cross the Argentina line.
Lydiate then left the action a minute later, clutching his left wrist, and he was replaced by Jac Morgan, Tipuric switching from open side to blind side.
Wales had territorial dominance and they were rewarded nine minutes before half-time when a powerful line-out ended in a try for Faletau on his 32nd birthday, and Anscombe’s successful conversion edged the local team.
Anscombe kicked a 30-yard penalty approaching the interval, and it was a much improved effort by Wales in the second quarter.
Argentina’s early momentum and control was gone, and Wales were good value for a 10-6 half-time lead.
Rees-Zammit, only making his third career start as a full-back, continued to attack deep and kept the Argentina defense on red alert.
Wales extended their lead just seven minutes into the second half when Pumas full-back Juan Cruz Mallia’s attempted clearance was cleared by Williams, who then scored easily.
Anscombe’s conversion opened up an 11-point advantage, and Argentina had to find a way back into the competition, but they could make little progress against a well-organized Welsh defence.
Pivac began to make changes, sending in Priestland and center Owen Watkin, but Wales weren’t helped when lock Will Rowlands was shown a yellow card for a technical infraction.
Argentina were unable to capitalize on a temporary one-man advantage, however, and a Priestland penalty put Wales 14 points clear with 17 minutes remaining.
But the Pumas struck after Rowlands returned, leading a line-up inside Wales’ 22, and substitute prop Tetaz Chaparro landed, Boffelli’s conversion closing the gap to 20-13.
Wales, however, showed admirable composure in the final minutes, despite losing Rowlands to what appeared to be a serious arm injury, and Argentina found no way out. to go back.