Wallabies wary of Pumas' impressive defence
REACTION: After Argentina’s impressive win against the All Blacks on Saturday, the Wallaby brains trust will no doubt be hard at work this coming week in the attempt to form a plan to crack the Pumas brick wall defence.
Even though it’s been 402 days since their last test match the passionate Pumas pretty much dismantled New Zealand in their historic 25-15 win in Sydney that made the rest of the rugby world sit up and take note.
They kept the All Blacks from scoring for 52 minutes before Sam Cane forced his way over the line for their first try and then again for almost the rest of the match before Caleb Clarke scored his first Test try in the last minute of the match which, in essence, made no real difference to the result.
Wallaby playmaker Reece Hodge said he could immediately pick up the difference former Australian head coach Michael Cheika had brought to the Argentine game since joining their coaching staff.
He mentioned that Argentina’s impressive defence had been quite the focal point at their training camp in NSW’s Hunter Valley.
“A lot of the boys were very impressed with the way Argentina defended – they didn’t give the All Blacks an inch,” Hodge said on Sunday.
“It’s one thing to do it against Australia A and another to do it against the All Blacks.
“They have obviously been training very hard and had that game circled for a long time and they were pretty clinical and played with a lot of passion and lot of skill.”
“We had a BBQ last night after a big training day and a few boys were discussing how tough a challenge they are going to be.”
He said that the Wallaby coaches would be studying the match video to ensure they produce a game plan to get back to back wins after their own upset victory over the All Blacks in Brisbane last weekend.
“Our coaches were watching pretty intently and they will no doubt go through it with a fine-tooth comb over the next couple of days,” Hodge said.
“We’ll probably find out tomorrow [Monday] morning how they see the way forward.”
The long-time relationship between Argentine head coach Mario Ledesma and former Wallaby coach Michael Cheika was no doubt a major factor as to why he joined the Pumas coaching staff.
Hodge said he could definitely Cheika’s influence in their attack.
“A few sort-of semi-trick plays had Cheika’s fingerprints all over them,” he said.
“He’s a deep thinker about the game and I’m sure he will have a few more up his sleeve on Saturday.”
With incumbent flyhalf James O’Connor still battling with injury Hodge hopes that his sterling performance in the last Test against the All Blacks where he was largely instrumental in them securing their 24-22 win will help him retain the number 10 jersey for just the third time.
In 16 starts against the Pumas the Wallabies have only ever lost twice….an emphatic 18-point loss on the Gold Coast in 2018 and an ugly two-point defeat in Brisbane back in 1983