Preview: Argentina v Scotland
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 21:14
In a rebuilding phase
It is two teams in a rebuilding phase - one with some success and another with no reward.
The Pumas, who have slipped to 11th place in the world rankings, their worst position yet, have lost their two encounters with Ireland - as coach Daniel Hourcade relied only on his home-based players for these June Tests.
Scotland, under new coach Vern Cotter, have beaten the United States and Canada. However, they have split their tour, with only a handful of those who were involved in the North American leg staying on for the second batch of games - against the Pumas and Springboks.
Manuel Montero, who scored a try the last time Argentina played in Córdoba, felt Scotland will be just as demanding as Ireland were.
The advantage is that they now have two matches worth of experience of playing Test rugby.
"We now know the dynamics of this kind of games, the importance of playing at international level, and that will ensure we are able to better manage the tension and nerves that comes with a Test match," Montero said.
Scotland coach Vern Cotter also spoke of the challenges of experimenting on tour.
"I think it is exciting times for Scotland," said Cotter.
"The guys who have come in [after missing the Test against the US and Canada] are full of enthusiasm and have fresh legs.
"We are playing another opposition, so we are preparing slightly differently, but some of the principles remain the same - simple things done exceptionally well.
"The whole objective of this tour is to explore opportunities and options. There is a lot of excitement in the group that has just turned up. They are rested and fresh.
"Nothing comes from nothing and I feel the players are trying to develop things. That is important.
"Did it come off every time last week: no. We found ourselves in four try-scoring situations where perhaps, if we replayed them, we would take different options. That is important. We are seeing opportunities but not executing to get the reward, but the important thing is that we are producing opportunities."
Hooker Ross Ford said wants his record-breaking outing in Cordoba to be one in which Scotland's young and inexperienced players rise to the challenge posed by Argentina.
He is due to become Scotland's most-capped hooker on Friday, with his years of service a sharp contrast to the scant time many of his colleagues have spent on international duty.
"I expect Scotland to go out and perform the way we want to, the way we have trained," Ford said as the team completed their final preparations at the Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes.
"We aim to play the brand of rugby that we want against a good Argentina team.
"There is always pressure to perform, it is a new team and there are some new boys in the team, so it is an opportunity to get involved and show they can play the way the coaches want the boys to play.
"Some boys have had that chance [on the North American leg of the tour] and we are now getting a crack at it. We will go and perform to the best of our ability."
Ford is among the group taking part in only the second half of the tour. After spending the early days of the month training and preparing at Murrayfield, they flew to Buenos Aires last Sunday, where they were joined on Monday by the core group still on duty after the 19-17 win against Canada.
The two units have spent the rest of the week trying to gel into a single group capable of playing the high-pressure game against the Pumas that new head coach, Cotter, is demanding.
Players to watch:
For Argentina: Last week wing Lucas González Amorosino performed brilliantly on the wing in a losing cause, on Friday he will look to have the same impact from fullback. Nicolás Sánchez and new captain Tomás Cubelli will also play pivotal rules. Lock Manuel Carizza will carry a huge responsibility for the set pieces.
For Scotland: You can look at seasoned players like Stuart Hogg and Duncan Weir, but mostly the spotlight will be on hooker Ross Ford - who becomes his country's most capped No.2.
Head to head: There will be great expectations for the Lucas González Amorosino (Argentina) and Stuart Hogg (Scotland) to produce something special on attack. The other interesting contest will be Julián Montoya (Argentina) against Ross Ford (Scotland) in the middle of the front row, at line-out time, at the breakdowns and in carrying the ball.
2011: Argentina won 13-12, Wellington (World Cup pool match)
2010: Scotland won 13-9, Mar del Plata
2010: Scotland won 24-16, Tucuman
2009: Argentina won 9-6, Edinburgh
2008: Scotland won 26-14, Buenos Aires
2008: Argentina won 21-15, Rosario
2007: Argentina won 19-13, Paris (World Cup pool match)
2005: Argentina won 23-19, Edinburgh
2001: Argentina won 25-16, Edinburgh
1999: Argentina won 31-22, Edinburgh
Prediction: Argentina are fielding a very depleted and inexperienced squad. Scotland have brought back a host of their frontline players. However, the Pumas will have learnt a lot about themselves in the two defeats to the Six Nations champions, Ireland, while Scotland will take very little from their North American victories, given they fielded their back-up players against the United States and Canada. This is a great game for Argentina to hit their straps, which we think they will do and take a 10-point win.
Argentina: 15 Lucas González Amorosino, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Santiago González Iglesias, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Tomás Cubelli (captain), 8 Tomás De la Vega, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Rodrigo Báez, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Matías Díaz, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Bruno Postiglioni.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Iglesias Valdez, 17 Lucas Noguera Paz, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Tomás Lavanini, 20 Antonio Ahualli de Chazal, 21 Martín Landajo, 22 Matías Moroni, 23 Joaquín Tuculet.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Grayson Hart, 8 Kieran Low, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Robert Harley, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Jonny Gray, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Dougie Fife.
Date: Friday, June 20
Venue: Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes, Córdoba
Kick-off: 16.10 (19.10 GMT, 20.10 BST)
Expected weather: Sunny and mild, with a high of 19°c and a low of 7°c
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gauzère (France), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)
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