Pool B preview: Argentina v Romania

Fri, 16 Sep 2011 00:00
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Argentina will aim to get their World Cup campaign back on track when they face Romania on Saturday in a Pool B game they must win to keep alive their hopes of, once again, reaching the last eight.

Argentina will aim to get their World Cup campaign back on track when they face Romania on Saturday in a Pool B game they must win to keep alive their hopes of, once again, reaching the last eight.

The Pumas suffered a devastating 13-9 loss to England in their opener after leading for much of the match and they finished that game with a long injury list.

Centre Gonzalo Tiesi was subsequently ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a leg injury, while flyhalf and skipper Felipe Contepomi was left in great pain from badly bruised ribs.

Coach Santiago Phelan has brought in Marcelo Bosch to replace Tiesi, while Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino comes in at full back to allow positional switches for Martín Rodríguez and Santiago Fernández, the latter of whom replaces Contepomi in the No.10 shirt.

No.8 Juan Martín Fernandez Lobbe has been named as Argentina captain in the absence of Contepomi.

On the plus side, veteran hooker Mario Ledesma is fully fit and will set a new record for World Cup matches for Argentina, playing his 15th. He previously shared the record of 14 with Agustín Pichot and Contepomi.

Fernandez Lobbe said that the loss of Contepomi was a big blow for the Pumas as "he's our star, the leader and the captain, who can make a difference".

"But we believe we have a strong squad and can make it, so we don't miss him too badly."

Fernandez Lobbe said that he had been impressed the way that Romania had pushed Scotland to the limit in their opener in Invercargill before losing 24-34.

"They have a really good pack and a good defence - we saw that against Scotland," he said.

"We'll have the same approach - a great defence, keep our tackling low, and try to stop them at lineouts and rolling mauls."

Romania were left with some regrets over running out of steam in the last 10 minutes against Scotland after a powerful pack display which had their Six Nations rivals on the back foot.

They have lost all seven games they have played against Argentina including a 50-3 thumping in the 2003 World Cup, but Oaks coach Romeo Gontineac believes his side has taken great confidence from the match against Scotland.

"That was a great match," he said. "We feel pretty good about it because we knew we could have won against Scotland.

"It's reassured us and we're feeling positive. We just have to make sure we keep the positives from that experience."

"We know it will be a physical match so our selection is based on that. We're ambitious."

Gontineac has retained the same pack, but made three changes in the back division.

Tiberius Ionut Dimofte, who turned in an impeccable kicking display against Scotland, moves from centre to take over from Marin Danut Dumbrava at flyhalf while Florin Surugiu gets the nod at scrumhalf, replacing veteran Lucian Mihai Sirbu.

Constantin Gheara at centre and Ionel Cazan on the wing were also named in the starting line-up.

Players to watch:

For Argentina: In the absence of a few experienced players, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe will play a vital role both as skipper, and as a talented back row capable of causing damage in the rucks with his tall frame. There will as be plenty of energy from evergreen hooker Mario Ledesma, who may still be having nightmares after being kissed by England's Steve Thompson on his last outing. Finally, wing Gonzalo Camacho was one of the unsung heroes from the narrow defeat to England, and could use his creativity to spark an attack in the backline.

For Romania: Perpignan flank Ovidiu Tonita could pose the biggest threat after being effective in the line-outs against Scotland and is a handy ball carrier. Up front the combination of Paulica Ion, Marius Tincu and Mihaita Lazar put the Scots to the sword at scrum time, but their task will be more difficult against Argentina.

Head to Head: Santiago Fernández and Tiberius Dimofte both wear the No.10 jersey for the first time in this World Cup, and as the two playmakers their roles will be pivotal to the outcome. Dimofte was excellent at centre against Scotland and will look to reproduce that good form, while Fernández has the big shoes of Felipe Contepomi to fill.

Recent Results:
2003: Argentina won 50-3 in Sydney
1998: Argentina won 68-22 in Rosario
1997: Argentina won 45-18 in Auch
1995: Argentina won 51-16 in Buenos Aires

Prediction: Both sides have strong packs, while the wealth of experience that Argentina enjoys at the highest level should give them at advantage. Romanians won't shy away from the tough stuff up front, but the Argentina pack are superior to what Scotland had to offer. Argentina by about 20.

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The teams:

Argentina: 15 Lucas González Amorosino, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Martín Rodríguez, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Santiago Fernández, 9 Nicolás Vergallo, 8 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe (captain), 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Julio Farías Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Mario Ledesma, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: 16 Agustín Creevy, 17 Martín Scelzo, 18 Mariano Galarza, 19 Alejandro Campos, 20 Alfredo Lalanne, 21 Nicolás Sánchez, 22 Juan Imhoff.

Romania: 15 Iulian Dumitras, 14 Madalin Lemnaru, 13 Csaba Gal, 12 Constantin Gheara, 11 Ionel Cazan, 10 Tiberius Dimofte, 9 Florin Surugiu, 8 Daniel Carpo, 7 Ovidiu Tonita, 6 Mihai Macovei, 5 Cristian Petre, 4 Valentin Ursache, 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Marius Tincu (captain), 1 Mihaita Lazar.
Replacements: 16 Bogdan Suman, 17 Silviu Florea, 18 Valentin Poparlan, 19 Daniel Ianus, 20 Valentin Calafeteanu, 21 Marin Dumbrava, 22 Florin Vlaicu.

Date: Saturday, September 17
Venue: Rugby Park, Invercargill
Kick-off: 15.30 (03.30 GMT)
Expected weather: Partly cloudy with a high of 12°C, dropping to 4°C.
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa), Simon McDowell (Ireland)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

AFP and rugby365.com

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Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 17
Wales 4 3 0 1 13
England 4 2 0 2 11
Fiji 4 1 0 3 5
Uruguay 4 0 0 4 0
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
South Africa 4 3 0 1 16
Scotland 4 3 0 1 14
Japan 4 3 0 1 12
Samoa 4 1 0 3 6
United States 4 0 0 4 0
Pool C
Team P W D L Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 19
Argentina 4 3 0 1 15
Georgia 4 2 0 2 8
Tonga 4 1 0 3 6
Namibia 4 0 0 4 1
Pool D
Team P W D L Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 18
France 4 3 0 1 14
Italy 4 2 0 2 10
Romania 4 1 0 3 4
Canada 4 0 0 4 2