Preview: New Zealand v Argentina
Fri, 06 Sep 2013 06:39
We're not playing tiddlywinks
Argentina will be keen to show that they can compete away from home when they face the All Blacks in Hamilton on Saturday.
The Pumas are still looking for their first-ever Rugby Championship victory, and have their work cut out for them once again against a New Zealand side that dealt with the Wallabies fairly easily at home and away.
After suffering a heft 73-13 defeat in their first match of the competition against the Springboks in Soweto, the Pumas bounced back with a spirited performance in Mendoza which saw them put up more of a fight and earna bonus point.
However, that performance was marred by allegations of foul play and No.8 Leandro Senatore was later suspended for nine weeks after he was found guilty of biting in the 22-17 loss, though fellow loose forward Pablo Matera was cleared of eye-gouging.
However, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has refused to label Argentina as a dirty side and explained that physicality is always important when facing the Springboks.
"They were playing South Africa so they would have been giving as much as they were giving. It's always a physical game and it will be physical on Saturday," Hansen said on Thursday.
"We're not playing tiddlywinks so every now and then people probably do things they don't want to do. In the heat of the battle it happens.
"I don't think they're a dirty team. That's what everyone is trying to imply. I don't think they are."
The All Blacks welcome back flyhalf Dan Carter from injury, and he will play alongside debutant inside centre Francis Saili who gets an opportunity ahead of Ma'a Nonu, whilst in the front row tighthead prop Charlie Faumuina also gets a chance to start.
The Pumas have named a strong side, with captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe back in the side after missing the two Tests against South Africa with a calf injury, although veteran centre Felipe Contepomi will play off the bench in a rotational move.
Argentina coach Santiago Phelan believes that his side have much to prove in their second season in the competition as they look for their first win.
"It's good to be in the second year because we know what it is about and we know what is happening.
"But it is also (tougher) because the other teams know us and they are always improving ...but that is how we improve and compete," he said.
When the sides met in Wellington last year the Pumas gave a good account of themselves and pushed the All Blacks before a late blitz from the home side secured a 21-5 victory in the end.
Players to watch:
For New Zealand: Ben Smith has been in prolific form and if he is given too much space along with Israel Dagg then it could be fatal for the Pumas. Dan Carter is back and he will use his experience to guide debutant inside centre Francis Saili. Kieran Read and Steven Luatua will play an important role in taking the Pumas on physically while the spotlight will be on Charlie Faumuina at scrum-time and Andrew Hore's throwing in the line-outs.
For Argentina: Fullback Juan Martin Hernandez will play an important role in Argentina's kicking game, and he will look to link up with the hard-running Gonzalo Camacho on attack. Captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe is back and will take the game to the All Blacks alongside Juan Manuel Leguizamon. Experienced hooker Eusebio Guinazu will play a vital role in the set-pieces, while mobile lock Julio Farias Cabello will look to impose himself in open play.
Head to head: The territorial battle between Juan Martin Hernandez and Israel Dagg will be crucial, and in midfield there will be a good tussle between outside centres Marcelo Bosch and Conrad Smith. Both captains Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and Richie McCaw will have an influence on the breakdown and in the front row Pumas tighthead Juan Figallo has his work cut out for him up against Tony Woodcock.
2012: New Zealand won 54-15 in La Plata
2012: New Zealand won 21-5 in Wellington
2011: New Zealand won 33-10 in Auckland
2006: New Zealand won 25-19 in Buenos Aires
2004: New Zealand won 41-7 in Hamilton
2001: New Zealand won 24-21 in Beunos Aires
2001: New Zealand won 67-19 in Christchurch
1997: New Zealand won 62-10 in Hamilton
1997: New Zealand won 93-8 in Wellington
Prediction: Argentina will be determined to show what they are capable of against the best team in the world, but the All Blacks have too much firepower and should win this by about 15 points.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Charles Piutau.
Argentina: 15 Juan Martin Hernandez, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 7 Pablo Matera, 6 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (captain), 5 Julio Farias Cabello, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Nahuel Lobo, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Benjamin Macome, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Felipe Contepomi, 23 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.
Date: Saturday, September 7
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.35 (04.35 Buenos Aires time; 07.35 GMT)
Predicted weather: Partly cloudy with 50% chance of a storm, high of 21 low of 17, wind 20 k/ph
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)
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