Argentina v Australia - Teams and Prediction
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND TWO: Argentina need to improve up front if they are to avoid another defeat against Australia in the Rugby Championship in San Juan on Saturday, according to their coach Michael Cheika.
The Australian former Wallabies coach watched his team blow a nine-point half-time lead against the same opponents last weekend as they fell to a bonus-point 26-41 defeat in Mendoza.
In particular, the Pumas failed to deal with Australia’s driving maul, leading the visiting Wallabies to several times turn down the opportunity to kick a relatively straightforward penalty in favour of kicking to the corner.
It paid off as their dominant maul set up four of their five tries.
But it is not just in defending the maul that Cheika expects his side to front up this weekend.
“It’s just about improving all the things. We’ve said before the most important things are the scrum, the maul, line-out, ruck so we can be competitive with all the teams,” said Cheika.
“We want these things to be at a strong level so we can be competitive in every game.”
Cheika was generally satisfied with his defense against the Wallabies despite conceding the five tries.
But it is putting the different aspects of the game together where he feels they still have work to do.
“We’ve got to work on the mentality and technique, mix the two things,” he said.
“Just think about what we’re trying to do: we’re trying to build a defence, the maul, everything together.
“In the game at the weekend we had a very good defence but we need to play defence and maul and make all things happen at the same time.”
— Wallabies (@wallabies) August 10, 2022
Band of brothers
Despite their perfect start last weekend, Australia’s coach Dave Rennie is not resting on his laurels.
“Argentina and their supporters will be expecting a response this weekend and we’ll need to increase our physicality and accuracy to get another positive result in San Juan,” he said.
Both sides have made four changes to their starting line-ups with Rennie picking James O’Connor for his first Test this year at fly-half after fellow veteran Quade Cooper suffered a suspected ruptured Achilles tendon last week.
Australia have suffered numerous injuries affecting their team selections for last month’s 2-1 Test series defeat to England and now the Rugby Championship this month.
Twenty players have been unavailable through either injury or suspension over the five matches, meaning Rennie has had to try out various combinations, particularly in the back-line.
“We have a strong culture here, strong group of men that have built pretty strong traits that we follow,” Jordan Petaia, who starts at right-wing, said earlier in the week.
“It is like a brotherhood where we will put our body on the line for each other, so I think that helps out on the field.”
Argentina lost every match in last season’s Rugby Championship and have not beaten Australia since 2018.
Australia are well set to win their first title since the truncated 2015 competition as they lead the championship by a point to South Africa, who dominated New Zealand 26-10 in Mbombela last week.
— Wallabies (@wallabies) August 9, 2022
Players to watch:
For Argentina: Michael Cheika and Argentina will be desperate to bounce back. The Los Pumas are sporting four changes. Gonzalo Bertranou replaces Tomas Cubelli at scrumhalf as Cheika sought to reprise the winning combination with Santiago Carreras at halfback from last month’s 2-1 test series success over Scotland. Matias Moroni will replace Matias Orlando at centre and there is a switch on the wings as Emiliano Boffelli moves to the right in place of Santiago Cordero, to allow Juan Imhoff to play on the left. While Thomas Gallo is in for Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro at loosehead in the front of the scrum for the test in San Juan on Saturday.
For Australia: The big news is the return of veteran James O’Connor at flyhalf. It was another very disruptive week for Dave Rennie as Hunter Paisami joined the already-full injury list after a head knock. This means Waratahs centre Lalakai Foketi for his second Test appearance. He will start at 12, with Len Ikitau returning at outside centre. In the pack, Prop Allan Alaalatoa became the fourth member of the Wallabies squad to fly home from Argentina following a family bereavement, with Taniela Tupou the starting tighthead. Rory Arnold, who has been based in France, will have his first start of the year in the second row, replacing Matt Philip.
Head to head
Last 10 meetings
@rugby365com: Australia by 12 points
Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallía, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou,, 8 Pablo Matera, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Juan Martín González Samso, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Francisco Gómez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Thomas Gallo
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Joel Sclavi, 19 Facundo Isa, 20 Rodrigo Bruni, 21 Tomas Cubeli, 22 Tomas Albornoz, 23 Lucio Cinti
Australia: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Darcy Swain, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Lachlan Lonergan, 1 James Slipper (captain).
Replacements: 16 Billy Pollard, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Irae Simone, 23 Reece Hodge.
Date: Saturday, August 13
Venue: Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario, San Juan
Kick-off: 16.10 (19.10 GMT; 05.10 AEST Sunday, August 7)
Expected weather: Clear and sunny. No real chance of precipitation. High of 21°C and low of 4°C
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant Referees: Mike Adamson (Scotland) & Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
* Stats provided by Opta Data