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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Power of Pumas' pack too much for rookie Wales side

Argentina should hit the ground running in San Juan

Argentina captain Agustin Creevy leads a powerful pack
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Channel 4, 8.40pm Saturday

A second-string Wales side held their nerve against a similarly inexperienced South Africa team in Washington DC last weekend to emerge victorious, but Warren Gatland's men face a big step up in class against Argentina in San Juan.

Los Pumas ought to be highly confident after the success their players have enjoyed as Los Jaguares in Super Rugby and their famed pack hold a huge edge in terms of experience and power.

In their first three Super Rugby campaigns the Argentinian franchise never won a match in Australia or New Zealand. But they headed there in April this year and won four out of four, and two home wins since have taken them to seventh in the table.

Wales have won five of the last six meetings between these teams but all of those matches have been in Cardiff. Before that they met four times in Argentina and the Pumas came out on top in three of those meetings.

And they look to be in a far better position to hit the ground running given all the squad have been training, touring and playing together since February while the Wales players came together in stages over the last month while coach Gatland has made nine changes to the side that beat the Boks last week.

Ironically an injury to prop Wyn Jones after he was selected to start has boosted the experience of the Wales pack, as replacement Rob Evans has 25 caps to Jones's nine.

But the Wales forwards still have only 81 caps between them compared to more than 300 on the other side of the scrum, and the big Pumas pack won't need any invitation to target the Welsh up front.

There should be that bit more cohesion about the home side and they will surely look to get on the front foot early on to deny Wales a foothold. Evens about the Pumas being ahead at half-time and full-time looks the pick of the match markets.

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The Wales forwards have only 81 caps between them compared to more than 300 on the other side of the scrum
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