Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Alarming signs for Wales as All Blacks loom

Six Nations champions Wales unlikely to threaten world champs and Samoa could also upset.

Photo / Andrew Cornaga
Photo / Andrew Cornaga

The evidence needs to mount rapidly and in large dollops if Wales are to be a threat to the All Blacks in a fortnight.

The Six Nations champions were a placid bunch yesterday as they fell convincingly to the Pumas who had been unable to win a game in the Rugby Championship.

A generous view would be that Wales were rusty after a long break.

Their lack of cohesion and absence of any great bite across the park were alarming signs for their next hit out against Samoa before the All Blacks hit Cardiff.

Warren Gatland has moved away temporarily from coaching Wales, handing the official duties to Rob Howley, while he sifts the talent for the Lions tour to Australia next year.

Gatland will return to coach the side against the All Blacks then the Wallabies the week after, but may want to revise that deal after yesterday's sluggish offering.

Defeat has almost certainly cost Wales any chance of making the prime top four seeds for the next World Cup when that draw is completed early next month.

Gatland would not have enjoyed being linked to Wales' performance and would have found it tough to get many of their names deep into his certainties' list for the Lions.

No 8 Toby Faletau, fullback Leigh Halfpenny and wing George North gave a fair bit but there was an alarming lack of sting from the rest.

Their scrum was adequate but the lack of energy stood out more than anything.

Sam who? would be the question after the ineffective openside performance from Welsh captain Sam Warburton.

He is reputed to be in a dogfight for his Wales jersey let alone a touring Lions uniform and his lack of impact against the Pumas underlined his troubles.

Argentina, led impressively once more by Juan Martinez Fernandez Lobbe, were up for it. They took some time to find their way on a Millennium Stadium surface which cut up badly but they engineered two slashing tries after the interval which ensured their victory.

The surface as much as anything will disturb the All Blacks staff when they dissect the game.

Wales lost midfield hardman Jamie Roberts to concussion but he had been well contained by the Pumas defence which scrambled and numbered up well.

Lock Alun Wyn-Jones also had to be replaced and those exits, on top of the miserable performance, drew columns about impending calamity.

Most were thinking that meant the All Blacks, but they might want to look a little closer when Samoa come calling this week.

- NZ Herald

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