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Rugby Championship: Argentina v New Zealand Preview
Our rugby scribe takes a look at this weekend’s Rugby Championship clash between Argentina and New Zealand.
New Zealand may have already wrapped up the Rugby Championship title but you can bet your bottom dollar that we’ll see no complacency from the world’s number 1 ranked side when they take on the plucky Argentines this Sunday.
Argentina v New Zealand | Sunday 2 October | Estadio Jose Amalifitani | 00:10
To Win (80 Mins)
Argentina 7/1 | Draw 33/1 | New Zealand 1/16
Argentina (+20.5) 9/10 | New Zealand (-20.5) 9/10
It has been another six months of improvement for the Argentines. While they did get hammered by the All Blacks and the Australians, their two performances against the South Africans were top draw. What is even more encouraging for the Argentines, are the displays that their young guns have put in. 23-year-old loosie Facundo Isa has been sensational while Santiago Cordero’s finishing ability has come to the fore. Both of these men had blinders when they took on New Zealand last month, with Cordero bagging the opening try and Isa carrying the ball up like a man possessed.
The aforementioned duo will be key to Argentina’s game plan this week. Daniel Hourcade is likely to instruct his charges to approach the game in the exact same manner they did in the reverse leg - look to attack the fringe defence and keep the ball alive. The plan worked brilliantly for the first 40 at the Westpac but the Kiwi’s ability to up the ante in the second stanza ensured the Argentines would end on the wrong side of an unflattering scoreline.
The hosts will be wary of the All Blacks ability to switch through the gears in the second stanza. While it’s never easy to negotiate this, Hourcade may do well to bring a few of his bench players on early in the second half so as to keep his side’s intensity levels up.
You can’t really ask for more as a New Zealand Rugby supporter. The All Blacks secured the 2016 Rugby Championship in style gaining their fourth successive bonus point victory. With the title wrapped up, one would expect the All Black’s intensity levels to slip somewhat. I highly doubt we’ll see them let off the gas however as coach Steve Hansen is a stickler for perfection.
While Hansen has made nine changes to his match day 23, he will still expect a big performance from his new-look side.
The most interesting changes to the All Blacks match day 23 see Highlanders’ loosie Liam Squires get a run on debut and Anton Lienert-Brown come in to partner Ryan Crotty in the centres. There is also a start for TJ Perenara who replaces Aaron Smith. The mercurial Damien McKenzie is given a spot on the bench alongside Tawera Kera Barlow.
Verdict: New Zealand (-20.5) 9/10
I reckon this game will follow a similar pattern to the one played in New Zealand with the All Blacks starting slowly and then blowing the Argentines away in the second half.