RECAP: Argentina versus New Zealand
READERS’ FORUM: Welcome to @rugby365’s live coverage of the opening Rugby Championship Test between Argentina and New Zealand in Buenos Aires.
Argentina may never get a better chance to defeat New Zealand – the only Tier One side the Pumas have never beaten.
A solitary 21-all draw in 1985 sits amongst 27 defeats. The closest they’ve come since joining the Rugby Championship was a 26-16 scoreline at the World Cup four years ago.
Prediction: This will be the 33rd meeting between Argentina and New Zealand, with the Pumas still on the hunt for their maiden victory against the All Blacks. Argentina’s only result against New Zealand came in a 21-all draw in November 1985 at Buenos Aires; since then, they’ve lost 10 games on the bounce against the All Blacks when playing at home. Argentina has lost their last four games played at Velez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires, including defeats to New Zealand in their last two games at the venue; the last time they won there was in June 2010 (41-13 v France). Argentina has lost 10 of their last 12 games heading into this fixture, including their last five in succession; the last time they lost more games in a row was a seven-game stretch from August to November in 2017. New Zealand is on the cusp of their 450th win in international rugby –43 more than any other team –and require a tally of just 26 points to become the first nation to score 16,000 international points. New Zealand has won 15 of their last 17 games, including a 66-3 defeat of Italy in Rome in their most recent fixture, their biggest international win away from home since defeating the USA 74-6 in Chicago in November 2014. Emiliano Boffelli (Argentina) made the most carries (71) of any player in The Rugby Championship 2018, six more than New Zealand’s best, Beauden Barrett (65). Ben Smith (New Zealand) made 15 clean breaks in The Rugby Championship 2018, three more than any other player in the competition. Nicolas Sanchez (Argentina) scored the most points (67) of any player in The Rugby Championship 2018, those points coming from four tries, 16/17 conversions, 4/7 penalty goals and a drop goal. Jordie Barrett (New Zealand) averaged 114 metres per-game in The Rugby Championship 2018, 40 more than the next best player and his teammate Rieko Ioane (74 metres per-game)
Prediction: New Zealand
Margin: 10 points
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Argentina: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Tomás Lezana, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 23 Joaquín Tuculet.
New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Jordie Barrett, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ofa Tuungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Atu Moli, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jackson Hemopo, 20 Luke Jacobson, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Braydon Ennor.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Alexandre Ruiz (France)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)