Argentina v New Zealand - Teams and Predictions
TRI-NATIONS, ROUND FIVE: The All Blacks can’t bear to think about a rare third straight defeat as the Pumas look to “do it for Diego” in Saturday’s Tri-Nations crunch match in Newcastle.
Coveted silverware is on the line at McDonald Jones Stadium and New Zealand captain Sam Cane wasn’t beating about the bush when describing the mood in camp following back-to-back losses to Australia and Argentina.
“The last two games; the feeling is just horrible. There’d be nothing worse than feeling that again heading into the summer,” Cane said ahead of the All Blacks’ last Test of 2020.
“The pressure that we’re under as a team, we’re using that in a really positive way to drive us.
“There is a slightly different mood; there’s been a bit of edge, a wee bit of almost grumpiness throughout the week.
“The guys from the leadership group are making sure things are spot on. It’s sort of like we’re going in there to do a job and hopefully come up with a result.”
The All Blacks haven’t endured three consecutive defeats this century, not since 1998 in fact.
If they do again, the Pumas will be in the box seat to claim their most significant trophy ever entering the final match of the tournament against the Wallabies on Saturday week.
On the flip side, the All Blacks can secure the Tri-Nations with a bonus-point victory – by outscoring the Pumas by three tries or more.
“Everyone in the squad is hurting but a lot of us that went out and played [in the historic loss to Argentina], get the opportunity to right some wrongs, put some pride back in the jersey, is good for us so let’s take it,” Cane said on Friday.
A win for the unbeaten Pumas would leave the South Americans needing only a bonus point, from a loss of seven points or less to the Wallabies, to claim the trophy.
And Cane has no doubt the passionate and inspired underdogs will be extra motivated following the death this week of Argentine legend Diego Maradona.
“He’s one of the all-time greats, if not the greatest. He was the footballer of the century I’ve been told,” Cane said.
“Knowing the Argentinian people, he’s viewed as a God-like figure over there. It’s always sad when a great sportsman or woman passes away, so I’m sure it’ll be a bit of a driving factor for them.”
The Wallabies will be watching the game with interest.
With all three teams tied on six competition points, the preferred result for the Wallabies on Saturday would be a draw.
In the event of that unlikely scenario, the next-best outcome for Australian fans is a tight contest without any bonus points accrued by either the All Blacks or Pumas.
That would leave the Wallabies, the tournament outsiders because of their poor points differential, needing “only” a bonus-point win over the Pumas in Sydney to secure the title.
Players to watch
For Argentina: In the backline, Emiliano Boffelli is a dangerous ball-runner at fullback and can he launch counter-attacks from all over the park. Jerónimo de la Fuente is an experienced midfielder with plenty of skills to unlock any defence. Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez has been the player of the tournament so far and he can destroy the All Blacks once again. In the pack, Facundo Isa is a monster in the No.8 jersey, while captain Pablo Matera leads by example and he will set out disrupt the All Blacks’ ball at the breakdown.
For New Zealand: Sam Cane will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders to lead his team to victory after two defeats. His loose-forward partner Akira Ioane gets a rare opportunity to start and he will bring more pace to the forward pack. In the backline, Richie Mo’unga failed to give his team direction on attack in their last outing against Argentina and there will be pressure on him to right the wrongs in Newcastle. Ian Foster has decided to stick with Jordie Barrett on the wing instead of putting a real wing in that position.
Head to head
Richie Mo’unga was outplayed by Nicolas Sanchez in the flyhalf battle last time out and the All Black star cannot afford to put in another poor performance with pressure mounting. The two captains, Pablo Matera and Sam Cane, will have the spotlight on them again. The spotlight will not only be on their breakdown play, but also their decision making in what will be another brutal Test match.
@rugby365com: New Zealand by 12 points.
Argentina: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Juan Cruz Mallía, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Felipe Ezcurra, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Lucas Paulos, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Mayco Vivas.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20. Santiago Grondona, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Santiago Carreras 23 Lucas Mensa.
New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Jordie Barrett, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Rieko Ioane, 23 Will Jordan.
Date: Saturday, November 28
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Kick-off: 19.45 AEDT (21.45 NZ time; 05.45 Buenos Aires time; 08.45 GMT)
Expected weather: It will be warm with wind speeds of up to 23km/h.
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner, Ben O’Keeffe
TMO: Paul Williams
AAP & @rugby365com