This article previews the Rugby Championship fixture between South Africa and Argentina at DHL Newlands Stadium in Cape Town. The game kicks off at 1:00 AM AEST on Sunday the 19th of August.
The Tri Nations has been rebranded as the Rugby Championship with the inclusion of Argentina this year. Each team will play home and away against the other sides over six rounds. The first round is on the 18th of August and the final round is on the 6th of October.
The Springboks are currently the 3rd ranked side in the world, behind New Zealand and Australia. They bowed out of the 2011 Rugby World Cup at the quarter-final stage when they lost 9-11 to the Wallabies. In June they beat England in a three-game series: 22-17, 36-27 and 14-14.
Below is the 22-man Springboks squad for this fixture. Sharks captain Keegan Daniel gets his first Test start at No. 8 in place of Pierre Spies, who has been ruled with a finger injury. Daniel is a flanker by trade but does have some experience at the back of the scrum. There are five other changes to the squad that drew England 14-14 in June. Winger Lwazi Mvovo replaces the injured JP Pietersen while Zane Kirchner, Frans Steyn, Willem Alberts, and Andries Bekker have made the starting 15.
15-Zane Kirchner, 14-Lwazi Mvovo, 13-Jean de Villiers (captain), 12-Frans Steyn, 11-Bryan Habana, 10-Morne Steyn, 9-Francois Hougaard, 8-Keegan Daniel, 7-Willem Alberts, 6-Marcell Coetzee, 5-Andries Bekker, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Tendai Mtawarira.
Reserves: 16-Adriaan Strauss, 17-Pat Cilliers, 18-Flip van der Merwe, 19-Jacques Potgieter, 20-Ruan Pienaar, 21-Pat Lambie, 22-JJ Engelbrecht.
Nicknamed Los Pumas, Argentina are currently the 8th ranked rugby side in the world, just behind Ireland and one place above Scotland. They have made at least the quarter-final stage in three of the last four world cups and were 3rd place finishers in 2007.
Argentina have never beaten the All Blacks or Springboks, but they have beaten the Wallabies on four occasions (in 1979, 1983, 1987 and 1997). Argentina boast a 9-4 record against Scotland, 12-5 record against Italy and a 5-7 record against Ireland.
In the 2011 Rugby World Cup Argentina lost 13-9 to England before beating Romania 43-8, Scotland 13-12 and Georgia 25-9. Argentina advanced to the quarter-finals where they lost 33-10 to the All Blacks.
The majority of the current squad play in the French first-tier Top 14 competition. Other players in the broader squad play in the Torneo de la URBA, which is a domestic competition in Argentina. Former All Blacks head coach Graham Henry is an assistant coach for Los Pumas. His NZRU contract prohibits him from being part of the coaching staff for their matches against the All Blacks during the 2012 Rugby Championship, but he is permitted to work with the Argentine Rugby Union at other times.
Argentina have announced the following squad for this fixture. Leading Argentinian points scorer Felipe Contepomi has made himself unavailable for this tournament, however veteran fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez will make his first Test appearance in three years. The 30-year-old has suffered a string of injuries since his last test against England in June 2009.
Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, Gonzalo Camacho, Marcelo Bosch, Santiago Fernandez, Horacio Agulla, Juan Martin Hernandez, Nicolas Vergallo, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (captain), Alvaro Galindo, Julio Farias Cabello, Patricio Albacete, Manuel Carizza, Juan Figallo, Eusebio Guinazu, Rodrigo Roncero.
Reserves: Bruno Postiglioni, Marcos Ayerza, Juan Pablo Orlandi, Thomas Leonardi, Leonardo Senatore, Martin Landajo, Martin Rodriguez.
Los Pumas have never beaten the Springboks, but they have come close on a few occasions. South Africa’s last victory over Argentina was also their most comprehensive, with the Springboks winning 63-9 in Johannesburg in 2008.
Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer doesn’t believe Argentina will stray too far from their traditional game. “I’ve seen a lot of footage of their games and I’ve coached two players in their present squad while I was at Leicester so I know how they play. They have a great scrum, they are great maulers, and I’ve noticed that their strength has improved, as well as their fitness levels.”
Most are expecting the Springboks to stick to their tried and tested game plan of using their heavy ball-carrying forwards to gain the ascendancy before using a tactical kicking game to pin their opponents down in their own territory. The Springboks have been doing a lot of training under the high ball in preparation, with the expectation that Argentina will play a strong kicking game this weekend. South Africa will be hoping Morne Steyn can regain his clinical goal kicking form after an indifferent series against England.
South Africa started at 1.18 in the head-to-head market with a -12.5 line but punter activity has forced a shift in the odds and lines from the bookmakers, with 1.15 (Sportingbet) the most you can get on the Springboks at the moment.
I’m expecting the Springboks to win this game comfortably given it’s being played in South Africa. The -12.5 line bet on South Africa at 1.91 with Sportingbet and Centrebet is my best bet for this fixture, with most bookmakers offering lines of -13.5 or more. The 1.91 line on South Africa with Stan James is -16.0!
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