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Rugby Championship: Australia v Argentina Preview
Argentina will be looking to claim their second victory of the 2016 Rugby Championship when they take on Australia this Saturday.
So we’ve got an out of sorts Australian side taking on an extremely dangerous ‘Los Pumas outfit at the NIB Stadium in Perth. The hosts come into this one off the back of a scrappy win over South Africa while the Argentines, despite going down by 35 points, will come into this one rather confident after putting in a brilliant first half shift against the All Blacks.
Australia v Argentina | Saturday 17 September | NIB Stadium | 09:35
To Win (80 Mins)
Australia 3/10 | Draw 22/1 | Argentina 26/10
Australia (-8.5) 9/10 | Argentina (+8.5) 9/10
Michael Cheika’s side managed to get their first taste of victory this year with a 23-17 victory over South Africa. It was a far from convincing performance from the Australians who still look a shadow of the side that won last year’s tournament.
The good news for Cheika is that his lineout is functioning once again. The Wallaby mentor opted to field three regular locks in his starting line-up last week with Dean Mumm cracking a start on the flank. The ploy worked a treat with the Wallabies a lot more solid on their own throw. They were also able to disrupt the South African’s put-ins, which is something they’ll look to replicate against the Argentines this coming weekend.
Cheika has opted to continue with Mumm on the flank but has changed his locking combination. Rob Simmons will partner Adam Coleman in the second row with Kane Douglas dropping out of the matchday 23.
It is not often that a team gets drummed 57-22 and still receives a whole lot of plaudits. The Argentines have forced this paradox upon the press after an exceedingly gutsy opening 40 minutes against New Zealand.
Los Pumas opened the scoring against New Zealand last week though centre Santiago Cordero. An inside ball from talismanic fly-half Nicolas Sanchez found fullback Joaquin Tuculet, whose robust carry gained his side several yards. Tuculet was eventually brought down but his quick pop off the deck found Matias Orlando who hurdled Tuculet, sucked in Israel Dagg and threw a lovely weighted pop to winger Santiago Cordero, who ran in unopposed. While New Zealand hit back with three tries before half-time, Argentina managed to stay in the game through the boot of Sanchez. The pivot slotted four first-half penalties to ensure his side went into the break only trailing by five points.
That was as good as it got for the Argentines as New Zealand put in one of the second half displays of the year, running in five magnificent tries.
I don’t think the second half blitz from the All Blacks will have affected the Argentines too badly. They are a much more mature team nowadays and Daniel Hourcade is the type of coach that will focus on the positives rather than the negatives – there weren’t actually too many negatives to their performance, to be honest.
In terms of team news, Daniel Hourcade has opted to make four changes for this one. Juan Manuel Leguizamon makes a return to the starting back row with Javier Ortega Desio shifting from the side of the scrum into the second row. The majority of the changes are in the backline where Santiago Gonzalez comes in for the injured Juan Martin Hernandez. He will be partnered by Matias Morini, moves from the wing into midfield. The final change sees Tomas Cuebilli come in for Martin Ladajo at scrumhalf.
The Stats That Matter
The last five games between the two sides have seen four Australian wins and one Argentine victory. Argentina’s win came in 2014 out in Mendoza.
The last three games between the sides have seen the total combined score remain below the 45 point mark with the total scoreline last passing the 50 point mark back in 2014.
Verdict: Argentina (+8.5) 9/10
I’ll probably be throwing my money on a straight Argentine victory but the shrewd thing to do is to back Los Pumas on the +8.5 handicap. Get on it ASAP as it’s likely to shorten.