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Rugby Championship: Argentina v Australia Preview
Argentina and Australia lock horns at Twickenham Stadium this Saturday in the final match of the 2016 Rugby Championship.
It is going to rather strange seeing a Rugby Championship game played out in England, and I’d be pretty miffed if I was a member of the Puma's squad as this really should have been played in their own backyard. But hey, let’s not let Sanzar’s money-spinning schemes get in the way of a good rugby preview.
This promises to be a cracker of a game with both sides in with a shout of finishing the tournament as runners-up. With Argentina needing a bonus point victory – and a drubbing of South Africa by the All Blacks – and the Australia desperate to get some synergy on attack, we're likely to see a rather open affair this Saturday.
Argentina v Australia | Saturday 8 October | Twickenham Stadium | 20:30
To Win (80 Mins)
Argentina 22/10 | Draw 22/1 | Australia 7/20
Argentina (+7.5) 8/10 | Australia (-7.5) 9/10
They may currently sit at the foot of the Rugby Championship log, but the Argentines can be pleased by their showing in the tournament. A narrow loss to South Africa in the opening week of the tournament was followed by a two-point victory over the same opposition.
They then headed off for Australasia and a date with the world’s number one side, New Zealand. While they ended that fixture on the wrong side of a 57-22 score line, the gutsy display that they put in during the first 40-minutes of the match received plaudits from all quarters. And while they were blown away by the Wallabies in Perth the following week, they proved that they have an abundance of moxie during their fixture against New Zealand last week.
Having gone into the half-time break 29-3, the Argentines responded with a wholehearted defensive effort which saw them restrict their opponents to only seven second-half points while Los Pumas managed to claim 14 of their own.
I expect we’ll see another whole-hearted display from the Argentines out in London this weekend. They were a bit naïve against Australia in the first clash between the two sides, giving away a plethora of penalties. Daniel Hourcade will have banged on about how important it is that his side do not make the same mistakes this time around.
The Australian’s Loftus hoodoo continued last weekend as they conspired to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I’m not going to pull any punches here. What we witnessed at Loftus last week was one the most unimaginative games to have ever taken place. It was almost as if both sides were trying not to lose the game rather than actually win it.
The Wallabies did look slightly better on attack than the Springboks with the build up to Scott Sio’s try illustrating that there is still some attacking flair buried deep within this current crop of Wallabies. They will need to bring that out this coming weekend as a conservative game plan is unlikely to reap dividends against an Argentine side that is electrifying on the counter attack.
With the above paragraph in mind, the key men for the Wallabies will be Will Genia and Quade Cooper. This halfback pairing is capable of igniting this stagnant Australian backline. They will need their forward pack to lay a solid foundation, however, which will be easier said than done as the Pumas forwards have been in immaculate touch this term.
Verdict: Argentina (+7.5) 9/10
I predicted an upset the last time these two sides met and I was made to eat humble pie with the Wallabies serving up a handsome victory out in Perth. I’m going to stick my neck out again and back the Argentines on the plus once again. They’re due another win in the tournament and I think the Aussies will be slightly tender after their war of attrition with the ‘Boks at Loftus.