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Wales, Argentina out to rebound from losses

CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Even for Cory Allen, his test debut for Wales on Saturday feels rushed.

All the 20-year-old centre hoped for at the start of the season was to break into the Cardiff Blues. When Wales came calling, he thought he might make the reserves for the Tonga game next Friday. Then when British Lions star Jonathan Davies tore a pectoral muscle in the loss to South Africa last Saturday, Allen believed he had a shot at a start. Coach Warren Gatland has given it to him, and there seems little chance the 1.91-meter (6-foot-3) Allen will be overawed when he faces Argentina at Millennium Stadium.

He was a member of the Wales Under-20 side which gave New Zealand its first defeat in the junior championship last year, but he's really made his name in the world sevens series. "It's a massive step up but it is not something that I am afraid of," Allen said of test rugby. "I'm confident about Saturday. If I wasn't good enough to be playing then I wouldn't have been picked. I just can't wait to play."

While Allen launches his test career, loosehead prop Gethin Jenkins will mark his 100th test since his debut in 2002, the fourth Welshman to reach the milestone. "He is a sensational player," Gatland said. "I hope we can give a performance that reflects his contribution to Welsh rugby in that we play well and win."

But the Welsh will try without two of their best contributors: Davies was the most incisive back against the Springboks, and the Wales scrum suffered after tighthead Adam Jones limped off with a calf injury. Adams Jones has been replaced by Rhodri Jones, who has two caps. Other changes see Lions flanker Justin Tipuric in for the injured Dan Lydiate, and Dan Biggar tried at flyhalf as Gatland checks his options.

Wales hasn't won an autumn international since it beat the Pumas in 2009, and lost to them 26-12 a year ago. "The challenge on Saturday is obvious from the disappointment of last year," Gatland said. "We have been working this week on support lines and making sure that when we make a break our lines of support are a bit better than they were against South Africa. When Jonathan Davies went through, if you look at the lines of support they were not positive enough. The top teams finish it off when they make a break because they get on the inside of the pass. We are working on the fine margins now to try to get this team to that top level. Those little one percenters are a huge priority for us."

The Pumas are also desperate after seven straight losses, all to the world's top four teams. They hope to deliver a first win for new coach Daniel Hourcade after falling to England 31-12 last weekend.

Hourcade brought in lock Manuel Carizza for Mariano Galarza, who was released to play for his Worcester club on Friday, and brought in three backs: Teenage wing Santiago Cordero, scrumhalf Martin Landajo, and fullback Joaquin Tuculet. Winger Horacio Agulla plays his 50th test.

"We're going to have to be more confident on defense, to go to them and not let them come to us as much as we allowed England to do," Pumas inside centre Santiago Fernandez said.


Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Cory Allen, Scott Williams, Liam Williams, Dan Biggar, Mike Phillips; Toby Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton (captain), Alun-Wyn Jones, Bradley Davies, Rhodri Jones, Richard Hibbard, Gethin Jenkins. Reserves: Ken Owens, Paul James, Samson Lee, Luke Charteris, Ryan Jones, Lloyd Williams, James Hook, Ashley Beck.

Argentina: Joaquin Tuculet, Horacio Agulla, Marcelo Bosch, Santiago Fernandez, Santiago Cordero, Nicholas Sanchez, Martin Landajo; Juan Manuel Leguizamon (captain), Julio Farias Cabello, Pablo Matera, Patricio Albacete, Manuel Carizza, Maximiliano Bustos, Eusebio Giunazu, Marcos Ayerza. Reserves: Santiago Iglesias Valdez, Nahuel Lobo, Matias Diaz, Tomas Lavanini, Leonardo Senatore, Tomas Cubelli, Gabriel Ascarate, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.

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