Following their 19-9 victory over England, Wales make nine changes for final World Cup warm-up with Argentina.
|Andy Powell is congratulated by teammate Tavis Knoyle after scoring a try against the Pumas [GALLO/GETTY]|
Wales ensured they would be leaving for the World Cup in good spirits with a 28-13 victory over Argentina on Saturday in their final warmup game before the tournament in New Zealand.
A slow first half came alive in the last four minutes with Andy Powell and Alun Wyn Jones scoring tries in quick succession and James Hook adding the conversions that gave the hosts a 14-3 lead at the break at the Millennium Stadium.
The Pumas had led through a Felipe Contepomi penalty in a game where players were out to impress their coaches before Monday’s deadline to name their final 30-man World Cup squads.
Mistakes crept in for a tired-looking Argentina as Hook kicked Wales further ahead before George North powered through for the third try.
Hook missed the conversion – the only blot on his copybook – before Argentina muscled their way through for a Martin Scelzo try that was converted by Contepomi, who had earlier kicked another penalty over.
Hook added a final penalty with the last kick of the game to add some gloss to the scoreline and add fuel to calls for coach Warren Gatland to make him his first-choice number 10, the versatile back’s favoured position.
Wales begin their World Cup campaign against champions South Africa in Pool D on September 11, while Argentina face England in their Pool B opener on September 10.
While Wales have finished their warm-ups, Argentina play English club side Worcester Warriors on Tuesday where they will be hoping to sharpen up.
Irish struggle, Scots succeed
France outclassed Ireland for the second time in seven days with a convincing 26-22 win in another World Cup warmup on Saturday, ending their preparations on a high and leaving Ireland with three losses in a row.
After a weak opening, France scored 26 unanswered points, including tries from fullback Cedric Heymans and flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc on either side of the interval. Scrum half Morgan Parra kicked 13 points.
Ireland dominated the first 20 minutes with a debut try from prop Cian Healy and a penalty from flyhalf Jonathan Sexton. They ended the match with two consolation tries in the last five minutes from Sexton and flanker Sean O’Brien, but the game was beyond them.
Ireland’s preparations were further dented when promising fullback Felix Jones, making his first start for Ireland, was carried off the pitch after injuring his leg.
France will go into the World Cup next month with two wins from two games despite resting several senior players, while Ireland will have to try to bounce back against England in the last of their four warmup games next Saturday.
|Nick de Luca of Scotland stops charge of Andrea Masi during friendly [GALLO/GETTY]|
Scotland beat Italy 23-12 in a lively encounter as both teams fine-tuned their game before the World Cup.
The hosts notched tries through Alasdair Dickinson (10) and Mike Blair (52) at Murrayfield with Italy also crossing the line twice thanks to Tommaso Benvenuti (24) and Fabio Semenzato (49) scoring their first five-pointers in international rugby.
Scotland flyhalf Dan Parks made the difference with two conversions and three penalties in a starting-lineup which featured 14 changes to the team which overcame Ireland earlier this month.
Andy Robinson’s defence were also superbly disciplined and Mirco Bergamasco missed Italy’s only penalty, which would have put the Azzurri level at 10-10 just before the break.
The two sides, perennially the worst in the annual Six Nations, showed off some rare attacking flair with Benvenuti’s try especially easy on the eye after two great offloads in the tackle.
Blair’s touchdown was scruffy in contrast with the scrum half charging down Andrea Masi’s kick close to the line.
Scotland open their World Cup Pool B campaign in New Zealand against Romania on Sept. 10 while Italy, who beat Japan last weekend, begin against Australia on Sept. 11 in Pool C.
The deadline for World Cup squads to be made official is Monday.