Preview: Argentina v England

Fri, 14 Jun 2013 11:02
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England coach Stuart Lancaster has put his faith in the youngest back division his side has fielded for 14 years as they bid to win the Test series against Argentina 2-0.

England coach Stuart Lancaster has put his faith in the youngest back division his side has fielded for 14 years as they bid to win the Test series against Argentina 2-0.

With Billy Twelvetrees, out of the tour after being called up by the British and Irish Lions, Lancaster has promoted 23-year old Rugby League convert Kyle Eastmond from the bench to play at inside centre in Buenos Aires on Saturday.

In one other change from the starting line up for the first Test in Salta, which England won 32-3, London Irish wing Marland Yarde will make his international debut.

The combined age of the England backs is 166 years and they boast just 34 caps between them - with Eastmond the oldest threequarter at 23 and scrumhalf Lee Dickson the senior man at 28.

In 1999 against Wales at Wembley England fielded a back division with a total age of 163 years.

"It has definitely got an X-factor to it, the back line," Lancaster told reporters at the team hotel in Buenos Aires.

"But as we all know there's definitely going to be a reaction from the Argentina side and what laid the foundation for our performance last week was our set piece.

"Our scrum was good, our line-out was good, we turned over their line-out and created turnover ball and counter-attacking opportunities. You only get to see the talent to shine through if you get your fundamentals right: the physicality, the contact area, the defence and the set piece.

"We will also have to deal with what I am sure will be a highly motivated Argentinean side."

Eastmond's promotion comes after just one full season in rugby union having made his name in rugby league with St Helens and England.

But Lancaster is confident he will slip easily into the role filled effectively by Twelvetrees in last Saturday's Test match.

Lancaster added: "He is pretty quiet off the field but he has got a strong sense self-belief in his own ability which shines through on the training field and he is a dominant player on the field.

"He needs to be a decision maker and as a key organiser you need to have an effective communication and he has got that. He made the change from rugby league to rugby union to play international rugby union and club rugby at the highest level so he is excited by the opportunity.

"The timing of passing and range of passing he has got is exceptional and the challenge is to translate that into a game. The way we want to play should allow him to express himself and show those talents and it is the next step for him to prove he can do it."

If Lancaster's men win they will become the first English side to win a series in Argentina 2-0. Bill Beaumont's team of 1981 won one Test and drew the other.

Players to watch:

For Argentina: The decision to move captain Felipe Contepomi from centre to flyhalf means he will have an even more important role to play as his team looks to bounce back from last week's loss. Belisario Agulla on the right wing, Gabriel Ascarate at inside centre, Nicolas Vergallo at scrumhalf, Rodrigo Baez at flank, Julio Farias Cabello at lock and prop Guillermo Roan are other selection changes this week that will come into the spotlight.

For England: On the wings Christian Wade and Marland Yarde will look to make strong statements, but it is in the midfield where Rugby League convert Kyle Eastmond will be in the spotlight.

Head to head: The most intriguing of all the battles will be at flyhalf - where Argentinean captain Felipe Contepomi, effectively retired but still leading his country at age 35 in a time of need, will face off against Freddie Burns, 12 years the junior of the Puma pivot.

Recent results:
2013: England won 32-3, Salta
2011: England won 13-9, Dunedin (World Cup pool match)
2009: England won 16-9, London
2009: Argentina won 24-22, Salta
2009: England won 37-15, Manchester
2006: Argentina won 25-18, London
2002: England won 18-26, Buenos Aires
2000: England won 19-0, London
1997: Argentina won 33-13, Buenos Aires
1997: England won 46-20, Buenos Aires

Prediction: It is difficult to see how Argentina can bounce back from last week's drubbing, but you would at least expect them to be a lot more competitive. The changes will make a difference, but you still have to back England to win - by at least 10 points.


Argentina: 15 Martin Bustos Moyano, 14 Belisario Agulla, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Gabriel Ascarate, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Felipe Contepomi, 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Tomas Leonardi, 7 Benjamin Macome, 6 Rodrigo Baez, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Julio Farias Cabello, 3 Maximiliano Bustos, 2 Martin Garcia Veiga, 1 Guillermo Roan.
Replacements: 16 Mauricio Guidone, 17 Pablo Henn, 18 Francisco Gómez Kodela, 19 Esteban Lozada, 20 Tomás De la Vega, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Benjamín Madero, 23 Matías Orlando.

England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Tom Wood (captain), 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 Paul Doran Jones, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Billy Vunipola, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Ben Foden.

Date: Saturday, 15 June
Venue: Velez Sarsfield Stadium, Buenos Aires
Kick-off: 16.10 (19.10 GMT; 20.10 UK time)
Expected weather: Sunshine and some clouds, with no rain expected. High of 17°C, low of 11°C
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker (South Africa), Christie du Preez (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

AFP & rugby365