Preview: Ireland v Argentina
There is not much between Ireland and Argentina down the years, and that is how it could be this Sunday when the two teams meet at Lansdowne Road, Dublin, a city where the Pumas have not won in six attempts.
Less and less do the Pumas find European venues intimidating. After all so many play in Europe and are across to Dublin for Heineken, Amlin Challenge and Magners duty. For the Pumas’ captain, lynchpin and creative genius Felipe Contepomi, Dublin is home from home. He played there, studied there, qualified as a surgeon there and worked there in the Beaumont Hospital.
Both sides lost last weekend – Ireland to the All Blacks, the best team in the world, and Argentina to France, the Six Nations champions. Ireland played well against the All Blacks and Argentina lost a mean 12-6 to France in a tryless match.
That suggests that it could be a close encounter, made even closer by the foul weather that has settled over the British Isles. It may well make the match a lottery.
The weather may eliminate the backs where the Irish would be expected to be better, though the Pumas have Contepomi. The weather may favour the forwards and here the Pumas are unlikely to yield and inch. After all they stood up well to France.
Both sides have good line-outs but the Argentinian is, not perhaps the force they were of yore, look much better than the Irish and their falling scrum. (Last weekend Cian Healy was penalised four times at the scrum.)
Penalties could well count. Against France in Montpellier the Pumas were penalised 12 times to five against France; in Dublin Ireland were penalised 10 times – the same as New Zealand. The Pumas were penalised seven times at the tackle, Ireland four times. One would expect the more experienced , aggressive Irish loose trio to be better than Argentina’s.
Getting possession could be even; using it may depend on the wether.
Players to Watch: The most evident players on each side were once on the same side, team-mated at Leinster – Brian O’Driscoll of Ireland and Felipe Contepomi of Argentina, both veterans, both skilled, both stars. Contepomi, one of the cleverest players in rugby, has more chance to shine because he is closer to the forwards. And who will forget O’Driscoll’s exquisite pick-up and score against the might of New Zealand.
Head to Head: They are in different positions but Felipe Contepomi of the Pumas and Brian O’Driscoll of the Irish are the two players who in a moment of genius could change a game. The two strong No.8s could produce a manful conflict – Jamie Heaslip of Ireland against Juan Fernandez Lobbe, both players capable of brilliance, Fernandez Lobbe perhaps more skilled, Heaslip perhaps faster. Front row against front row, especially Martín Scelzo against collapsible, young Cian Healy.
2008: Ireland won 17-3, Dublin
2007: Argentina won 30-15, Paris (World Cup pool match)
2007: Argentina won 16-0, Buenos Aires
2007: Argentina won 22-20, Sante Fe
2004: Ireland won 21-19, Dublin
2003: Ireland won 16-15, Adelaide (World Cup pool match)
2002: Ireland won 16-7, Dublin
2000: Argentina won 34-23, Buenos Aires
1999: Argentina won 28-24, Lens (World Cup quarterfinal)
1999: Ireland won 32-24, Dublin
rugby365.com Prediction: Despite the weight of history and because history is there to be made, we suggest that Argentina will win by four.
Ireland: 15 Geordan Murphy, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O’Driscoll (captain), 12 Gordon D’Arcy, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 David Wallace, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Mick O’Driscoll, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Tom Court, 18 Devin Toner, 19 Denis Leamy, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Ronan O’Gara, 22 Keith Earls
Argentina: 15 Martin Rodriguez, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Marcelo Bosch, 11 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 10 Felipe Contepomi (captain), 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 7 Julio Farias Cabello, 6 Genaro Fessia, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Mariano Galarza, 3 Martín Scelzo, 2 Mario Ledesma, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Santiago Guzmán, 20 Álvaro Galindo, 21 Alfredo Lalanne, 22 Lucas Borges.
Date: Sunday, 28 November 2010
Kick-off: 14.30 (14.30 GMT)
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin
Expected weather: Foul weather is forecast with the possibility of snow, a high of 3°C (windchill -2°C) and a low of -1°C (windchill -6°C) and a wind from the northeast of 25 km/h freshening.
Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Stuart Terheege (England)
TMO: Daniel Gillet (France)
By Paul Dobson