Wales come from behind to draw with 14-man Argentina 20-20
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — A depleted Wales and a 14-man Argentina drew 20-20 after Jarrod Evans missed a last-gasp penalty to win the first test for the hosts on Saturday.
Fullback Juan Cruz Mallia was sent off for a high tackle in the 29th minute while Wales was leading 6-3. The match was briefly down to 13 vs. 14. Just moments before, referee Matt Carley lost patience with opposing props Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro and Dillon Lewis and sin-binned them.
Argentina responded brilliantly to lead 13-6 by halftime, and 20-6 soon after.
Wales was struggling in the set-pieces and the breakdown, and wasting multiple raids into the Argentina 22. But it eventually tied the score with eight minutes to go and both teams’ replacement flyhalves missed late penalty kicks.
“The errors just kept creeping into our game throughout that second half. We’d have a good passage and let them off the hook again. That was frustrating,” Wales coach Wayne Pivac said.
“To come back from 20-6 and have a chance to win it, we’ll take that and it sets us up for next weekend.”
After a scrappy first quarter as a Welsh second string butted up against a battle-hardened but frantic Argentina, the red card seemed to settle both teams. Mallia accidentally hit Wales scrumhalf Kieran Hardy’s head with his own in a tackle and gave Carley no choice.
The Pumas reset and grew patient, earned a tying penalty kick and regained the lead right before halftime from lineout ball. Captain Julian Montoya charged to the line and former captain Pablo Matera ran over Wales flyhalf Callum Sheedy to score with a push from midfielder Jeronimo de la Fuente.
De La Fuente then scored a converted try himself after halftime after good work from Sanchez and Santiago Chocobares, and the Pumas led 20-6.
At that point, Wales halves Hardy and Sheedy were replaced by Tomos Williams and Jarrod Evans, and the change was inspiring.
Williams helped to set up a try for lock Will Rowlands, and scored a brilliant try of his own. First, Williams disrupted an Argentina defensive scrum to regain the put-in. Then, as the brittle Welsh scrum held, he broke on the blindside, stepped defenders and scored.
Domingo Miotti missed a penalty kick to break the deadlock for Argentina after Sanchez missed two penalties just before the Williams try. Argentina settled for a third draw in its last five tests.
Evans was given a shot from 40 meters but it flew wide right. Wales, without its dozen British and Irish Lions, upheld an unbeaten run against the Pumas since 2012.
The teams go again on the same grass next Saturday.
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