New Zealand v Argentina: Teams and Predictions
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP, ROUND THREE: The All Blacks are looking for another inspirational performance from Akira Ioane when they face a determined Argentina in the Rugby Championship on Sunday at the Gold Coast.
Argentina upset the All Blacks for the first time last year and may believe they can do it again, but they don’t have an Ioane and that could be a key difference according to stand-in All Blacks captain Brodie Retallick.
The All Blacks misread the Argentines last year and were beaten by Los Pumas for the first time – a 25-15 scoreline in Sydney that has both sides fired up for this match.
The Pumas have strict orders from coach Mario Ledesma to stifle the free-flowing All Blacks game and dictate the pace with their forward power.
“The objectives for this Sunday are to control the game in the things that we can control, impose the things that we can impose, and obviously that begins with obtaining possession,” Ledesma said.
“We have to play the game we want to play.”
That was their winning formula last year, and Retallick said the All Blacks, who bounced back from last year’s loss with a 38-0 victory two weeks later, will be ready for them this time.
“They’ve got every right to believe that they can beat us, anyone can,” said Retallick, the All Blacks fourth captain this year with Ardie Savea sidelined by a head knock while Sam Whitelock and Aaron Smith are on paternity leave.
The All Blacks became frustrated and sidetracked, he said, as the Pumas “played off-the-ball a little bit” last year.
“There’s been a real focus on us this week to make sure we get our skill sets right and accurate in our roles and hopefully negate that.”
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In the opening two rounds of the Rugby Championship, Argentina managed only one try when beaten twice by South Africa while the All Blacks, with their high-octane approach, scored 14 in back-to-back wins over Australia.
Retallick said the importance of Ioane should not be under-estimated, with the powerful Auckland Blues flanker in sensational form.
In the second Test against the Wallabies he made 88 metres, beat nine defenders, made eight tackles and set up two tries.
“A lot of our tries come from unstructured rugby at the moment,” Retallick said.
“And that comes down to one-on-ones and when you’ve got a guy like Akira or a loose forward outside you who can create that space it’s another aspect that teams have to think about defensively.
“It does open up opportunities in other spots which is great for us.”
The All Blacks have made six changes for the match while retaining fullback Jordie Barrett after the competition judiciary ruled there was no need for further penalties following his red card last week.
Argentina have made seven changes which includes the return of 32-year-old playmaker Nicolas Sanchez, who will become their most-capped player when he runs out for his 90th Test.
Captain Julian Montoya said they have spent the past two weeks “being very self-critical” and working on discipline after conceding 34 penalties in their two Tests against South Africa.
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Players to watch:
For New Zealand: Brodie Retallick takes over the captain’s armband from Ardie Savea. The lock is always in great form and adds immense value to the team. One of the team’s workhorses Retallick will lead from the front. Luke Jacobson comes in for Savea, while Asafo Aumua earns his first Test start replacing Codie Taylor as hooker. Akira Ioane is another forward that will want to put another great shift following his man of the match performance against Australia last week. In the backs, wing Sevu Reece, centre George Bridge and scrumhalf TJ Perenara join the starting XV and hope to cement their respective spots in the team.
For Argentina: The big talking in the Los Pumas is the inclusion of Nicolas Sanchez in the starting XV. The star flyhalf will have to be in great shape as he will dictate much of the play against the All Blacks. In the pack flank, Marcos Kremer and tighthead prop Santiago Medrano freshen up the pack after being on the bench for their last match. Kremer forms the loose trio with the powerful Rodrigo Bruni and former captain Pablo Matera. The trio could hold the key to Los Pumas’ success as they will have be very aggressive at the breakdown. Another significant change is in the back, Bautista Delguy comes in for Ignacio Mendy on the right wing while Matias Moroni got the nod at outside centre and Santiago Cordero replaces Santiago Carreras on the left wing.
Head to head:
@rugby365com: New Zealand to win by 10 points
New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick (captain), 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Rieko Ioane.
Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Facundo Gigena
Replacements: 16 Facundo Bosch, 17 Carloe Muzzio, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Tomas Lavanini, 20 Juan Martin Gonzalez Samso, 21 Gonzalo Garcia, 22 Santiago Chocobares, 23 Emiliano Boffelli
Date: Sunday, September 12
Venue: Robina Stadium, Gold Coast
Kick-off: 17.05 (19.05 NZST; 07.05 GMT; 04.05 ART)
Expected weather conditions: Clear and sunny with a high of 24°C and a low of 13°C – perfect for some running rugby.
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Graham Cooper (AUS)
TMO: Brett Cronan (AUS)