Rugby Championship: New Zealand v Argentina Preview

New Zealand will host Argentina in the third round of the 2017 Rugby Championship.  

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9 September 09h35 | Yarrow Stadium | New Plymouth

To Win (80 Mins)
NZ 1/100 | Draw 40/1 | Argentina 14/1

After a rather uncharacteristic display against the Wallabies a fortnight ago, Steve Hansen’s World Champions will seek improvement against Los Pumas this weekend. Their 40-handling errors and 14-conceded turnovers in Bledisloe 2 were two of the most appalling stats to come out of an All Black performance in quite some time, and they will be wary of committing similar offences against a side renowned for their ability on the counter.

New Zealand
While the All Blacks’ 2017 Rugby Championship record to date may read “two from two”, they will know that their showing in Dunedin left a lot to be desired. Having allowed Australia to race to a 17-0 lead after just 16-minutes, they only just managed to claw their way back into the contest through a Beauden Barrett try a couple of minutes out from fulltime. While the match will certainly go down as one of the greatest in Bledisloe Cup history, the hosts would have felt aggrieved at letting their bitter foes get so close to causing a major upset.

This week’s clash with Argentina offers the Kiwis a shot at surpassing the Springboks at the summit of The Rugby Championship standings. The Boks’ superior points-difference (14) sees them assume command early on, but a big win in Dunedin will propel the All Blacks to top spot. With the South Africans playing in Australia this weekend in what should be a very tightly-contested encounter, the All Blacks have the perfect opportunity to claim pole-position.

The effort shown in the second-half two-weeks ago may have been much improved, but there’s no shying away from what went down in the first. Although the Argentines may not offer up as close a contest, New Zealand should be wary of giving them too much respect at the set-piece, as well as allowing them the time and space to attack. A clinical, structured game-plan should be enough to see them to another comfortable win on Saturday.

Argentina
Daniel Hourcade’s South Americans come into this one off the back of two very disappointing showings against the Springboks. In both the PE and Salta Tests, they were found wanting in the physical exchanges as well as in the disciplinary department. One would think that the Argentines would have learned from the past, but it would seem that their tendency to concede yellow (and, in the case of Tomas Lavinini, red) cards is one that refuses to die. Second-rower Lavinini, who was sent off in the Salta Test after seeing yellow twice has since been dropped from the Argentine squad, as Hourcade attempts - for the umpteenth time it would seem - to send a clear message to his squad regarding ill-discipline. It remains to be seen whether his clan will take it on board this time.

The All Blacks are a side that Argentina has never beaten and if recent performances are anything to go by nothing should change this weekend. They will surely offer up an improved performance up front on Saturday, but they may still finish second in the physical stakes. If they manage to disrupt the AB’s flow at the breakdown and “get in their faces” without conceding penalties, the game may well open up and allow for Argentina to play their free-flowing counter-attacking game. However, as much as the neutrals would so love to see an upset take place, common sense dictates that the hosts should still be backed.

New Zealand

15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Ngani Laumape

Argentina

15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Benjamin Macome, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Lucas Noguera Paz
Substitutes: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto Heilan, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Matias Orlando

Verdict: New Zealand 1/100
A composed, clinical performance by Kieran Read’s men should see them canter to victory this weekend. If they keep the contest tight and stop their opponents from creating a scrap at the breakdown, they will almost certainly leapfrog the Boks into first-place.

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