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Argentina v Samoa - Teams and Prediction

WORLD CUP, ROUND THREE: Samoa will be looking to win their opening two pool matches for only the third time when they face Argentina in their Pool D World Cup clash at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Étienne on Friday.

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Let’s be honest, the Los Pumas were poor in their opener against England. Can Samoa upset Argentina?

It will be a very close battle with Argentina needing vast improvement from their opener to claim the win. But bookies are predicting that Samoa has a very realistic chance of upsetting Michael Cheika’s team.

The last time Samoa met Argentina in their second game of the tournament in 1999, they lost 16-32.

Samoa’s coach Seilala Mapusua explained the reasons for the changes to his side for this encounter.

“Brian Alainu’u’esehas been training really well and this was a game we thought his strengths would be utilised, especially around the set-piece.

“Ben Lam [wing] has just become available after sustaining an injury a few weeks ago. He is now fit and ready to go. We were worried when he sustained his injury.

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“He’s a lot on the edge for us, he’s a very big man who can move quickly. He brings a lot to the wider channels, his pure power and the way he plays the game. We are looking forward to finally getting him on the field this weekend.

“With Lima Sopoaga’s [flyhalf] omission [from the match-day squad], I think it’s been circulated, he sustained a [calf] injury last week against Chile. He was ruled out this week, we ruled him out as a precautionary. Also, because of the nature of his injury he wasn’t ready to play this week.”

Mapusua expects that his team will not need a stern talking-to at halftime, like he had to do during the opening game against Chile.

“The boys have realised we are in the tournament, we’ve arrived at the party. There are no second chances so this week the whole squad, there has been a real lift and energy. We know we have got a huge game coming up.

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“We won’t be short of motivation.”

The six-day turnaround from their opening match has been a challenge for the Samoans.

‘It’s been tough. We waited a couple of weeks to play our first game and then I felt like we blinked and we are straight into the second game. It’s been good but we’ve had to be a bit creative this week in terms of how we managed our squad, making sure we are in the best condition for the game on Friday, ” Mapusua said.

‘More tough games please’

The Samoan coach has implored rugby’s governing bodies to change the global calendar to afford his team more opportunities to play against Tier 1 nations.

This match will be only Samoa’s third against a Tier 1 nation in four years.

Since crashing out of the group stages at the last World Cup in Japan, Samoa have played only 12 matches, less than a third of the number played by the elite Tier 1 nations.

Half of those matches were against fellow Pacific Islanders Tonga and Fiji and only two, including their last World Cup warm-up – a narrow 13-17 defeat to world number one side Ireland – were against Tier 1 nations.

“This model definitely needs to be looked at, especially from our perspective. We need more meaningful games and competitive games so we can assemble our best and keep developing as a team.”

Samoa has not beaten a Tier 1 nation since 2014.

The Los Pumas coach Michael Cheika made just three changes to his starting XV from the team that lost 27-10 against England in the opening round, with Eduardo Bello coming into the front-row, Guido Petti into the second-row, and Matías Moroni into the midfield.

Matías Moroni earns just his third start of 2023, after playing four of his six tests off the bench. He is the only player to have played in all six tests this year for Los Pumas, despite only two of these caps coming in the run-on team.

The Australian said the players had learned a lot from their opening 10-27 loss to 14-man England in Marseilles and had spent all week in training focusing on the basics.

“We know the type of game we want to play, we don’t want to change too much depending on the opponent,” he told reporters after naming his team on Wednesday.

“We have to be disciplined in our organisation, in defence and attack. It may take 60, 70 minutes until the opportunity is there, but you have to take it when it comes.

“You don’t have to do something magical, it’s about playing our game disciplined and very aggressively.”

Argentina captain Juan Montoya admitted his side were under pressure after losing their opening match 10-27 to England, and with a huge pack awaiting them.

“We expect a very physical match from them,” said the hooker.

“We are in a World Cup and the mentality we have is to look at what we have to win.”

Players to watch:

For Argentina: Pablo Matera has started more tests for Argentina than any other player, earning 91 of his 96 caps in the starting XV. He also generated much of Los Pumas’ attack against England, with five defenders beaten, and 44 metres past the gain-line from the joint-most carries (11). These stats make him a real threat. Nicolas Sanchez is Argentina’s most capped back-line player and their all-time leading point-scorer (863). He requires 19 more points to surpass Gonzalo Quesada as their all-time RWC leading point-scorer. He has something to play for. Julian Montoya did not miss a tackle against England, and he will play a vital role in Argentina’s wall of defence.

For Samoa: Christian Leali’ifano averages 10 points per game, and a 73 percent goal kicking accuracy against Argentina. His role as pivot is a key part of Samoa’s attacking prowess. Duncan Paia’aua is currently on a three-game try-scoring streak, after crossing just once across his first four tests for Samoa. In terms of defence, Theo McFarland did not miss a tackle against Chile, completing all 14 attempts.

Argentina v Samoa - Teams and Prediction Argentina v Samoa - Teams and Prediction

Prediction:

@Rugby365: Argentina by 12 points

Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia; 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Mateo Carreras; 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou; 8 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera; 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti; 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Thomas Gallo
Replacements: Agustin Creevy, Mayco Vivas, Francisco Gomez Kodela, Pedro Rubiolo, Rodrigo Bruni, Tomas Cubelli, Nicolas Sanchez, Lucio Cinti

Samoa: 15 Duncan Paia’aua; 14 Nigel Ah Wong, 13 UJ Seuteni, 12 Tumua Manu, 11 Ben Lam; 10 Christian Leali’ifano, 9 Jonathan Taumateine; 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Fritz Lee, 6 Theo McFarland; 5 Chris Vui (captain), 4 Brian Alainu’u’ese; 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Seilala Lam, 1 James Lay
Replacements: 16 Sama Malolo, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Sa Jordan Taufua, 21 Melani Matavao, 22 D’Angelo Leuila, 23 Danny Toala

Date: Friday, September 22
Venue: Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne
Kick-off: 17.45 (15.45 GMT, 12.45 ART, Saturday, September 23 04.45 WST)
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)

*Additional sources AFP, @WorldRugby

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