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Heartbreak for Wales as Argentina surge into World Cup semi-finals

14 Oct 2023 4 minute read
Wales players look dejected after the final whistle in the Rugby World Cup quarter final match. Photo David Davies/PA Wire.

Wales crashed out of the Rugby World Cup after Emiliano Boffelli inspired an Argentina fightback that saw them win a thrilling spectacle 29-17 at Stade Velodrome.

Warren Gatland’s team had high hopes of reaching a third World Cup semi-final in the last four tournaments, but Argentina ripped up the form book after struggling to qualify from their pool.

Wales led 10-0 through a Dan Biggar try, conversion and penalty, only for Boffelli to wipe out that deficit with four penalties during a damaging spell either side of half-time.

Scrum-half Tomos Williams’ try, again converted by Biggar, put Wales back in front, but Pumas prop Joel Sclavi touched down and replacement fly-half Nicolas Sanchez claimed an interception try during the closing seconds. Boffelli converted both and then Sanchez booted a last-minute penalty.

It all rubbed salt into a gaping Welsh wound, although the Pumas were fortunate to see lock Guido Petti avoid sanction for a shoulder-led hit on Wales centre Nick Tompkins 16 minutes from time.

Referee Karl Dickson, who had taken over from an injured Jaco Peyper early on, awarded no card following television match official consultation, and Wales’ players looked perplexed.

Wales’ defeat meant the end of Biggar’s international career, having announced in August that he would retire from the Test arena post-World Cup.

Bright start

Argentina had struggled to qualify from their group, but they made a bright start in perfect conditions by stretching Wales’ defence.

Boffelli, though, missed a 30-metre penalty chance and Wales responded through some fluency of their own and a determination to free prolific try-scorer Louis Rees-Zammit in space.

Wales then broke the deadlock after 14 minutes when centre George North – playing in a Welsh record fourth World Cup quarter-final – made initial headway before Biggar crossed between the posts and converted his own try.

Peyper then left the action, appearing to suffer a calf muscle injury, with Englishman Dickson taking the whistle.

There were also problems with Wales’ shirts, as several players saw numbers peel off the back, before Biggar restored a degree of calm with a long-range penalty that made it 10-0.

Anxiety had rippled through Welsh ranks when Biggar went down clutching his chest after tackling Santiago Chocobares, but he quickly resumed following treatment.

Wales’ problem area was the lineout, losing two on their own throw inside the opening 25 minutes, but Argentina could not take advantage with the Pumas making little headway following an impressive start.

Biggar then missed a penalty, but Boffelli was more accurate with successive kicks as the first half ended with Argentina on the attack and growing in confidence until an overtime brawl broke out with the Pumas just 10-6 behind.

Push

Prior to Boffelli’s second successful strike, Wales wing Josh Adams was fortunate to avoid a yellow card for pushing over an Argentina player off the ball, and a half-time substitution saw hooker Dewi Lake replace Ryan Elias.

Argentina retained the initiative, and Boffelli completed a quickfire penalty hat-trick that send further warning signals to a Wales team that had temporarily lost its way.

But there was no stopping Boffelli as he then kicked a penalty from two metres inside his own half as Wales fell behind for the first time.

Williams made an instant impact after going on for Gareth Davies, splitting open Argentina’s defence on a weaving 25-metre run to the line, and Biggar’s conversion put Wales back in front, holding a five-point lead approaching the hour mark.

After Petti’s let-off, Sclavi pounced following sustained pressure before Boffelli’s conversion put Argentina back in front and Wales were once again in trouble.

But Gatland’s team threw everything at Argentina during the closing stages, with Rees-Zammit going desperately close to a try in the corner.

It was a breathless and frenzied finale – a suitable end to a memorable contest – before Sanchez intercepted Sam Costelow’s pass, Boffelli converted, Sanchez landed a penalty and Wales were out.

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Llyn
Llyn
6 months ago

They were the better team with amazing fans and deserve it.

Gareth
Gareth
6 months ago

The tactics of Argentina were spot on. Keep the game In the forwards, and kick the penalties. As we have dictated in other games they dictated today, well done to Argentina.

Richard Burton
Richard Burton
6 months ago

Both teams will lose next game but it would have been nice to get to support Wales for a final puff of the dragon

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago

Well played ARG who have showed for years with the exception of the opener against England that they have huge appetite for feeding off mistakes and clumsiness of opponents. Wales were great in patches but today we had glimpses of the blunders that tainted their play over recent seasons. In first half lot of Welsh players had good shows although 9 and 2 seem to revert to old flaws. In 2nd 1/2 fresh subs coming on yet behaving like they don’t expect passes is not good enough at this level.

Riki
Riki
6 months ago

Look at all the Welsh who just refuse to admit they were robbed. 17-12 when wales should have had a man extra. Yet the refs cowardly let fans dictate because of their opinions on the Fiji game. And how lucky Wales apparently were.

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