Wales’ defensive work ‘wasn’t up to Test-match standard’ against All Blacks says Pivac
Wales face in-form Argentina on Saturday with head coach Wayne Pivac admitting some of his team’s defensive work against New Zealand did not meet Test-match standards.
Pivac has made three changes and three positional switches to tackle the Pumas in Wales’ second Autumn Nations Series encounter.
They include Louis Rees-Zammit being moved from wing to full-back, a position where he has started just twice in 57 games for his club Gloucester.
Pivac’s options were limited, though, with Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams both injured, while another alternative – wing Josh Adams – has only just resumed training following a hand injury.
Wales return to action after shipping 55 points against the All Blacks – the most they have conceded during 138 years of Test rugby in Cardiff – and meet a side fresh from defeating England at Twickenham.
“Clearly, as a group, we want to get a result every Test match,” Pivac said.
“It is about being clinical and that you stay in the arm-wrestle a bit longer than we did. Obviously, we had a couple of exits we didn’t execute which put us back under pressure.
“In doing so, we released pressure on New Zealand. It’s more around our defensive work in our 22.
“We’ve spoken about that because it really wasn’t up to Test-match standard. The boys know that, and hopefully with another week in camp we will be a lot better for that performance.”
Alex Cuthbert, who has recovered from injury, completes the back three alongside Rio Dyer, a try-scorer on his Test debut against New Zealand.
Gareth Anscombe, who deputised for Halfpenny five days ago, reverts to fly-half, replacing Rhys Priestland.
Elsewhere, prop Dillon Lewis starts instead of Tomas Francis and experienced Ospreys flanker Dan Lydiate features in the back row.
With Leicester flanker Tommy Reffell sidelined because of a rib injury, captain Justin Tipuric moves across to openside, packing down with number eight Taulupe Faletau in a back-row trio boasting 246 caps.
There is no place in the matchday 23 for Wales’ record cap holder Alun Wyn Jones, as Ben Carter provides second-row cover, with other bench changes seeing props Rhodri Jones and Sam Wainwright selected, plus Priestland and Ospreys flanker Jac Morgan.
Argentina beat Wales comfortably on their last visit to the Principality Stadium 16 months ago.
And Pivac added: “They have come off Rugby Championship wins over New Zealand and Australia.
“If you look at the last 18 months, they have knocked off a lot of good teams, and England have just been added to that list.
“We’ve got total respect for the Argentinians. They are a very big side, very physical and you know what they are doing now behind that forward pack is starting to pay dividends.
“They are scoring some good tries. They are going to be a handful, we know that.
“We need to improve immensely from last week. It’s amazing what you can do in a week.”
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