RECAP: Australia v Argentina
READERS’ FORUM: Welcome to this Rugby Championship Round Two encounter between Australia and Argentina in Brisbane.
The Wallabies won just four of 13 games last year – their worst campaign in decades – and after a 35-17 loss in the Rugby Championship opener against South Africa in Johannesburg last weekend the pressure is on again.
Argentina agonisingly lost to the All Blacks 20-16 in Buenos Aires last weekend.
Prediction: Australia has won 16 of their last 18 games against Argentina, including a 45-34 win in their last encounter – the highest total score ever between the two nations. This will be the first meeting between Australia and Argentina at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. However, the Pumas won on their most recent visit to Australia (September 2018) – their first win over the Wallabies in Australia since 1983. Australia has won only two of their last seven games played in The Rugby Championship. However, one of those wins came against Argentina while the other came at Suncorp Stadium. Australia has won their last five games on the bounce at Suncorp Stadium – four by a single-digit margin – and haven’t lost at the venue since June 2016 (vs England). Argentina has won only two of their last 15 Tests played away from home, including defeats in each of their last three such fixtures. Argentina has lost their last six games on the bounce; the last time they lost more in succession was a seven-game stretch from August to November in 2017. Australia conceded just 291 metres gained in Round One of The Rugby Championship 2019, the fewest of any team and 183 metres fewer than their game average from the 2018 edition. Michael Hooper (Australia) is set to play his 14th Test match at Suncorp Stadium; only Stephen Moore (16) has played more at the venue. Bernard Foley (Australia) has scored 124 points in 11 games against Argentina, more than any other player in Test history. Jeronimo De La Fuente (Argentina) was the only player to make more than 10 carries and more than 10 tackles during Round One of The Rugby Championship 2019 (11 carries, 12 tackles).
Prediction: Australia by more than 10.
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Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Will Genia, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 James Slipper, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Luke Jones, 21 Nic White, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 James O’Connor.
Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Tomas Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Ramiro Herrera, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 23 Matias Orlando
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)