Preview: South Africa v Argentina

Thu, 29 Oct 2015 21:20
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It might not be the end to the year either side wanted, but Argentina and South Africa have vowed to give their all in the World Cup third-place play-off.

The likes of New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, whose defending champions will contest the Final after beating South Africa 20-18 last weekend, have questioned the worth of Friday's match at London's Olympic Stadium.
 
And after seeing his side beaten by the All Blacks, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said of the third-place match: "It does not mean anything to me. It is like kissing your sister."
 
However, having had a few days to reflect, Meyer - who has named his strongest available side - said: "It is my task to get them in the right frame of mind after the disappointment of last weekend and to ensure we bounce back with a good win after a tough week."

Veteran lock Victor Matfield will captain the team in probably his last appearance for the Springboks.
 
The 38-year-old Matfield, making his 127th Test appearance, replaces Fourie du Preez as skipper after the scrumhalf suffered a tournament-ending cheek injury against New Zealand.
 
Matfield, a World Cup-winner in 2007, has come in for Lodewyk de Jager in the second row, with Ruan Pienaar taking over from Du Preez in the only other change to the starting line-up.
 
Matfield retired after the 2011 World Cup, but returned last year with the Bulls following encouragement from Meyer to resume his career.
 
Fellow 2007 World Cup-winner Du Preez did not even make the bench after suffering a swollen eye and broken tooth against the All Blacks.
 
Du Preez, also persuaded to return by Meyer, said after the semifinal that it was probably his last Springbok appearance.
 
De Jager, who started that match, has been struggling with a foot tendon injury.

He is now among the replacements, with Rudy Paige the reserve scrumhalf following Pienaar's promotion.
 
In August, Argentina achieved their first victory over South Africa with a 37-25 win in Durban.

Meyer said that is one of the reasons he decided against selecting a host of fringe players.

"The temptation was there to have some fresh guys," he said of a match which will see a number of the senior players making their last appearance, before walking off into the game's sunset.

"The Pumas have made massive strides in recent years and we've experienced first-hand how tough an opponent they can be," said Meyer, who also presided over the Springboks' shock 32-34 defeat by Japan in their Pool opener - the biggest upset in World Cup history.
 
"People may have misunderstood me," he said of the 'kissing your sister' quote, adding: "I always said that if you accept playing for third and fourth you will never be a winner.

"When you are a Springbok, only being the best in the world is good enough.

"However, whenever you put the Bok jersey on you are still representing your country, carrying the hopes and dreams of a lot of people.

"I just felt it is such an important game, with a short turnaround and just one training session, so to make wholesale changes.

"We have to go out there and win. They [Argentina] are a quality side and if we are not at our best it will be a really difficult day.

"We want to go out there and put in one last big performance."

Meanwhile Argentina will be looking to equal their best World Cup finish of third at the 2007 edition.
 
"Every game means a lot. Every game we are trying to reach the top and it will be fantastic to beat such a great team as South Africa," said Daniel Hourcade, the Argentina coach.
 
Injuries mean the Pumas too will have a new captain after their 29-15 semifinal loss to Australia.
 
Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, the leading points scorer at the World Cup, will skipper Argentina for the first time.
 
Sanchez, who has 89 points, will take over as captain from injured hooker Agustin Creevy.
 
Hourcade has made nine changes to the team that started against the Wallabies, most of them enforced, with Creevy, outstanding wing Juan Imhoff and veteran centre Juan Martin Hernández all replaced on Sunday.
 
Among Friday's starters, Horacio Agulla and Juan Martín Fernandez Lobbe started the 2007 bronze final for Argentina, which saw them beat hosts France for the second time in the tournament.

Players to watch:

For South Africa: The selection of veterans Ruan Pienaar and Victor Matfield - in probably their last Springbok appearances  will mean the spotlight will automatically fall on their performances. But it is youngsters like Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Handré Pollard and Eben Etzebeth that could really light up the Olympic Stadium.

For Argentina: No doubt the captaincy will rest heavily on the shoulders of flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez - the man that has become a stalwart in an ever-improving Pumas selection. Fullback Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino and wing Santiago Cordero will be the major attacking threats. You can always bank on Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe to give the Argentinean pack some momentum

Head to head: As is the case with any Argentinean side the scrums will be interesting to watch - with Frans Malherbe, Bismarck du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira (South Africa) having their work cut out against the Pumas' powerhouse front row of Ramiro Herrera, Julian Montoya and Juan Figallo. Springbok Victor Matfield gets one last chance to show the line-out skills that made him such a legend when he encounters the talented Tomas Lavanini of Argentina. Springbok flyhalf Handré Pollard will also face a serious examination in his face-off with Nicolas Sanchez.

Recent results:
2015: South Africa won 26-12, Buenos Aires
2015: Argentina won 37-25, Durban
2014: South Africa won 33-31, Salta
2014: South Africa won 13-6, Pretoria
2013: South Africa won 22-17, Mendoza
2013: South Africa won 73-13, Soweto
2012: South Africa and Argentina 16-all, Mendoza
2012: South Africa won 27-6, Cape Town
2008: South Africa won 63-9, Johannesburg
2007: South Africa won 37-13, Paris (Word Cup semifinal)

Prediction: It is always tough to predict which team ill overcome the emotional blow-out of their semifinal loss and bounce back in this nonsensical game. We feel South Africa will find the required motivation to produce the crucial score that will give tem a win by less than 10 points.

Teams:
 
South Africa:
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Lodewyk de Jager, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.

Argentina: 15 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Nicolas Sanchez (captain), 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Javier Ortega Desio, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Juan Figallo.
Replacements: 16 Lucas Noguera, 17 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 18 Santiago Garcia Botta, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Juan Pablo Socino.

Date: Friday, October 30
Venue: Olympic Stadium, London
Kick-off: 20.00 (20.00 GMT, 22.00 SA time, 17.00 Argentina time)
Expected weather: Occasional rain and gusty winds during the morning, becoming drier and brighter during the afternoon, but remaining windy. High of 17°C and a low of 10°C
Referee: Johnny Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
TMO: Graham Hughes

Agence France-Presse & @rugby365com

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