LOOSEHEAD prop Gareth Thomas made his long-awaited senior debut for Wales in their emphatic 68-12 win against Canada at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.

The 26 year-old came on for half an hour, and showed why his solid scrummaging and ball carrying skills have made him one of the most improved Ospreys players this season.

The Newcastle Emlyn man, who was an integral part of the Wales Under 20s squad that reached the Junior World Championship final in 2013, was one of five new Wales caps.

Lock Ben Carter, who was named man of the match, and wing Tom Rogers both started, with Taine Basham and Ben Thomas also coming off the replacements' bench.

A Wales side shorn of 12 front line players, with 10 on Lions duty, came through for a convincing win, to leave them in good heart for the next two tests against Argentina.

“It’s a new group of guys,” said head coach Wayne Pivac. “Foxy [Jonathan Davies] was the only one in the starting line-up from the last time we played.

“There has been a lot of work going on in the last few weeks. We were really eager to see how the guys would go and see how they combined.

“(Conceding an early try) wasn’t the start that anyone wanted, but the reaction to that was good. To have 40 points in the bank by half time means you have to be relatively pleased.

“We knew there would be mistakes and there were. We’ll look at that and pull out the learnings for individuals and for the group as a whole."

Two tries apiece from Tomos Williams, Basham and Jonah Holmes, and further scores from James Botham, Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee and Will Rowlands sealed the 10-try win.

Fly-half Callum Sheedy added 14 points – but the win was overshadowed by Leigh Halfpenny suffering a serious knee injury in the opening minute of his 100th international.

“It was a shock to everyone, it was just under a minute into the game," said Pivac.

“He’s just stepped off one leg and tweaked the knee. We won’t know how bad it is until he gets that scanned and he’ll do that early next week.

“I had a chat with him after the game and no matter what it is, Leigh is a determined young man.

"He wants to play 100 games for his country as well as 100 Test matches combined with those Lions ones.

“He’s still driven and he still feels he can offer something for his country. While he has that at the forefront of his mind, I have no doubt he’ll bounce back.”

Despite a hugely encouraging start to their summer Test series, Pivac has warned his side they will have to step it up against Argentina in Cardiff next weekend.

The Pumas are one of the form sides in world rugby at the moment and last year recorded an historic first victory over the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship.

“We didn’t want to go in cold against a side that has drawn twice against Australia and beaten the All Blacks,” said Pivac. “You have to respect any side that can do that.

“Argentina are a serious tier one nation now and for this young team to go up against a side like that is exactly what we need.

"It will show them how much hard work they need to put in if they want to play at this level on a regular basis.

“There are lots of learnings today and there will be a lot more next week. We’ll need to step it up across our whole game really.

“It’s highlighted a few things for us that we’ll go away and work on. We’ll be tested across the board because it’s a step up from a tier two to a tier one nation, obviously.”

Gareth Thomas on verge of first Wales senior cap.

Match Report: Wales 68 Canada 12

Jonathan Davies delighted to captain his country

Winger Tom Rogers delighted to make his test debut