The good news for Wayne Pivac is that a majorly under-strength Wales avoided defeat against an Argentina side that contained nine starters from the team that had defeated New Zealand earlier in the season.
Wales were missing their 10 Lions tourists, plus the injured George North, Tomas Francis, Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric.
Really, under those circumstances, the expectation might have been that the Pumas would win.
That they didn’t even triumph should be something, at least, to lift the spirits of head coach Pivac.
The bad news is that Wales were disjointed and unconvincing for much of the game against opponents who had full-back Juan Cruz Mallia sent off in the 29th minute and thus were playing with a man down for the most part.
A mixed bag for Pivac to reflect on, then.
Definitely among the positives was the effort of replacement scrum-half Tomos Williams.
On the evidence of Saturday, he should be with the Lions in South Africa. Even though Conor Murray is captain, scrum-half is proving something of an issue for the Lions in the build-up to the Test matches with the Springboks.
Williams once declared: “Nothing is perfect in my game, and I don’t think it will be.”
Fair enough. It doesn’t hurt for a player to be realistic.
Progress, not perfection, is what self-help gurus reckon should be the aim, anyway.
And Williams is doing nicely on that front if his stint off the bench against the Pumas is anything to go by.
He is a player who makes things happen.
When he is on the field, the opposition know that at some point in proceedings he is going to strike. It calls to mind memories of the Welsh world title-contending boxer Colin Jones from days of yore. His opponents knew a big punch would arrive at some stage. More often than not such a hit would prove decisive.
Williams’ telling intervention didn’t settle the argument this time, but it did help earn Wales a share of the spoils at 20-20, with the former Wales U16s basketball player taking off from a short-range scrum on 71 minutes, opting to go blind and then deceiving the cover with a sharp side-step.
“That is sensational stuff from one of the best nines in the United Kingdom,” enthused one TV commentator, who had initially felt the short side to be, well, short of space for would-be attackers.
It wasn’t. Space just had to be created. Williams did exactly that for the score.
Seconds earlier he had helped Wales achieve a key possession shift by plaguing Argentina No. 8 Rodrigo Bruni at the base of a scrum. The 23-cap player could also be heard chivvying up those around him, exhorting them to greater efforts.
He impacted the game hugely at a key stage, then. That’s what good players do.
One social-media poster said online: “I’m still baffled as to why Tomos Williams isn’t with the Lions. Only Dupont betters him in the northern hemisphere right now.”
And, generously, the official man of the match, Hallam Amos, sang Williams’ plaudits after the game, saying: “He was great. He’s a fantastic player.
“It’s great to have someone with that speed of thought.
“The way he plays and the ability he has, I don’t think there’s many who are as skilful as him. When he’s carrying the ball one handed like Alun Wyn and he’s only 5ft 4in it’s pretty impressive.”
Shall we agree Williams is bigger than 5ft 4in?
There was an authority about him during his 33 minutes on the pitch, as well as invention. At one point he dinked the ball over the defence and over the opposition try line for chasing Wales players to contest, almost creating a try.
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You felt a bit for Kieran Hardy. With Wales hopelessly poor at retaining possession, especially in the wide channels, and their scrum hitting problems, he had scruffy ball to deal with at times.
He didn’t do anything badly wrong himself and is a player who is very much in the Test mix.
But Wales played with greater tempo when Williams and Jarrod Evans were at half-back.
Evans sent a couple of lovely passes out wide as Pivac’s team sought to exploit the Pumas being down to 14 men after the dismissal of Mallia for a head-on-head hit on Hardy.
Maybe the two Cardiff players were helped by the extra familiarity they enjoyed from playing together away from the Test game.
Whatever, they advanced their claims to start in the second Test.
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Williams, in particular, caught the eye. He needs to back up this effort now.
Most would have expected that at 26 he would have started more than just nine Tests.
There again, Rob Howley didn’t begin to put his Wales career into gear until his mid-20s.
Pivac? Well, he was finding it hard to find too many pluses after the first Test.
But Williams was one.
It’ll be a surprise if he’s not rewarded for his effort.
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