Australia v Argentina - Teams and Prediction
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND FIVE: Wallabies coach Dave Rennie says he expects a spirited and unwavering Los Pumas outfit when the sides meet on Saturday in Townsville.
Argentina are yet to win in this year’s Rugby Championship while the Wallabies sit one point behind South Africa on the ladder, with New Zealand unbeaten through four rounds.
Having drawn both their matches in last year’s competition, Rennie’s current crop of players and Los Pumas share distinct similarities with both teams boasting a healthy balance of Test veterans and exuberant youth.
After watching a video from Argentina’s previous matches with the All Blacks, Rennie knows a side with nothing to lose can be as dangerous as any.
“They are a bit different, they’ll want to express themselves, their forwards throw a hell of a lot more passes. They’ll counter when given the opportunity – they’re very good at it,” he said on Thursday.
“They’re also really good at filling the field, very disciplined around the defence and it can be hard to break down.
“The All Blacks, lots of points came from a little bit of individual brilliance – you beat someone you get an offload away and they score.
“What we’ve learned over the last few weeks is you’ve got to hang on in the fight for a long time and sometimes it takes 60 or 70 minutes to crack a side, so we need to see that resilience on the weekend.”
Part of the Wallabies’ focus this week has been diffusing the high-ball from kicks, a tactic employed by the Springboks to edge their way down the field and force errors.
For replacement fullback Reece Hodge it was the only blight on his game as kick after kick came soaring towards him with the fullback unable to gather on numerous occasions.
Rennie expects the same traffic in those channels come Saturday but believes it will be a tactic used against Australia for some time.
“Every other team we play from now on [will utilise the high ball],” he said.
“We’ve given them pretty easy access around us to get to our jumpers which creates a contest in the air.
“What we know is we can legally get them on the outside shoulder, run next to them shoulder to shoulder and deny them access in.
“We’ve done a pretty poor job around that, we’ve done a lot of work on it, we haven’t seen that transfer.
“If we can’t secure the ball in the air it’s an opportunity lost.”
Argentina head coach Mario Ledesma named an unchanged run-on side to the one that crashed to a second-string New Zealand last week, with Santiago Carreras retained at flyhalf with first-choice No.10 Nicolas Sanchez still out injured.
Players to watch
For Australia: Rob Leota will make his run-on debut in the No.6 jersey and Dave Rennie will be looking for some dynamism in the back row with his inclusion. Captain Michael Hooper has been playing out of his skin in recent weeks and he will look to disrupt Argentina’s ball at the breakdowns. Quade Cooper has played a big role in Australia’s success over the Springboks and he will again have a spotlight on him on Saturday. Another play that has starred is Samu Kerevi. The big centre is hard to contain when he gets going with ball in hand.
For Argentina: Like Michael Hooper, Pablo Matera is a workhorse in the breakdowns and on defence. In the second row, Tomas Lavanini can be seen as a penalty and card machine, but he does bring some much-needed aggression to the Pumas’ physical game. In the backline, Santiago Carreras gets another opportunity to prove his worth in the No.10 jersey and he will have a challenge on his hands against Quade Cooper.
Head to head
- Each of the last two men’s Tests between Australia and Argentina have ended in a draw; only once in Test history have any two Tier 1 nations drawn three consecutive encounters (England vs France from February 1959 to February 1961).
- Australia have lost only one of their last 17 men’s Tests against Argentina in Australia (W14, D2); although, seven of their last nine encounters in Australia have been decided by a margin of seven points or fewer on the day.
- Australia come into this Test on the back of two consecutive wins against South Africa and will now be searching for a third straight win in men’s Tests for the first time since a four-game winning streak from October to November in 2017.
- Australia have lost only three of their last 10 men’s Tests on home soil (W5, D2) and have picked up four home wins already in 2021; the last time they logged more home wins in a calendar year was in 2014 (W5).
- Argentina have lost their last four consecutive men’s Tests, scoring no more than 13 points in any game in that span; the last time they went longer without scoring more than 15 points in a Test was a five-game stretch from March to August in 1990.
@rugby365com: Australia by 13 points.
Australia: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Rob Leota, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 James O’Connor, 23 Jordan Petaia.
Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Pablo Matera, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Facundo Gigena.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Rodrigo Martinez, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Joaquin Oviedo, 21 Gonzalo Garcia, 22 Domingo Miotti, 23 Mateo Carreras.
Date: Saturday, September 25
Venue: North Queensland Stadium, Townsville
Kick-off: 20.05 (10.05 GMT; 07.05 ART)
Expected weather: It will be warm with a high of 26°C and a low of 18°C. There will be a slight breeze.
Referee: Matthew Carley (ENG)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (RSA), Nic Berry (AUS)
TMO: Brett Cronan (AUS)
AAP & @rugby365com
* Statistics provided by Opta Sports