Rugby Championship: Argentina vs. New Zealand – Preview and Betting Tips

The following article previews this weekend’s Rugby Championship clash between Los Pumas and the All Blacks at Estadio Ciudad de La Plata in La Plata, Argentina. The game kicks off at 9:10 AM AEST on Sunday, the 30th of September. The referee is Jaco Peyper from South Africa. A win for the All Blacks would see them clinch the 2012 Rugby Championship title.

Recent History

The last Test between the two sides was a bruising encounter in wet and windy conditions in Wellington. The All Blacks started as 1.01 favourites with a -26.5 line, but were held to a 9-5 score after 65 minutes. As they have done all season, the Pumas then faded badly as the All Blacks ran in two tries to extend the score line to 21-5. The 16 point margin was well short of the 26.5 line start Argentina.

While the All Blacks are unbeaten against Argentina, history suggests that it will be a tight encounter in La Plata. The last two times the All Blacks played Los Pumas in Argentina they won 24-20 in 2001 and 25-19 in 2006.



Argentina have named an unchanged starting line-up. Coach Santiago Phelan has made two changes to the bench, bringing in prop Marcos Ayerza for Juan Pablo Orlandi and back-row forward Tomas Vallejos for Leonardo Senatore.

15- Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14- Gonzalo Camacho, 13- Marcelo Bosch, 12- Santiago Fernandez, 11- Horacio Agulla, 10- Juan Martin Hernandez, 9- Martin Landajo; 8- Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (captain), 7- Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6- Julio Farias Cabello, 5- Patricio Albacete, 4- Manuel Carizza, 3- Juan Figallo, 2- Eusebio Guinazu, 1- Rodrigo Roncero

Reserves: 16- Agustin Creevy, 17- Marcos Ayerza, 18- Tomas Vallejos, 19- Tomas Leonardi, 20- Nicolas Vergallo, 21- Martin Rodriguez, 22- Juan Imhoff

All Blacks

Dan Carter will return at fly-half after recovering from the hamstring injury that kept him out of the previous two Tests. In one other change Aaron Smith will start at half-back ahead of Piri Weepu.

In two changes to the bench, openside-flanker Sam Cane replaces Victor Vito and Ben Smith regains a spot at the expense of Tamati Ellison.

15-Israel Dagg, 14-Cory Jane, 13-Conrad Smith, 12-Ma’a Nonu, 11-Julian Savea, 10-Daniel Carter, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Kieran Read, 7-Richie McCaw (captain), 6-Liam Messam, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Luke Romano, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Andrew Hore, 1-Tony Woodcock.

Reserves: 16-Keven Mealamu, 17-Charlie Faumuina, 18-Brodie Retallick, 19-Sam Cane, 20-Piri Weepu, 21-Aaron Cruden, 22-Ben Smith

Match Preview

Argentina will be rueing their inability to compete for the full 80 minutes in this series. While they have not conceded a try in the first half of their last three Tests, in the final fifteen minutes they have blown leads against the Springboks and Wallabies, and let the score line blow out against the All Blacks. The last quarter of an hour has turned two wins and a bonus point loss into a draw, bonus point loss and a loss for Los Pumas. That’s 9 points down to 3. It appears that Argentina’s aggression at the breakdown, particularly in defence, saps the forwards of energy, with the side unable to maintain their intensity in the closing stages of each Test.

There won’t be any mystery over what New Zealand can expect from Los Pumas in La Plata. “Argentina will look to slow it down and make it a scrappy game. If it does get scrappy we’ll get what we got in Wellington,” All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has said. You can’t blame Argentina for playing to their strengths. They have a well-drilled and physical forward pack and are strong at disrupting the link between the half-back and fly-half. The wet and windy weather certainly helped Argentina’s cause when the two sides last played in Wellington, so they will be hoping for more wet weather on Saturday. At the time of writing there is a 20% chance of rain.

While they remain undefeated in the Rugby Championship, there has been a lot of murmuring across the Tasman about poor All Black performances. The backs haven’t been at their fluid, devastating best and the forwards have dominated at the breakdown by Los Pumas and Springboks. Once again last week the All Blacks were let down by handling errors as they persist with the intention to play high-tempo rugby.

New Zealand have discussed the need to set a solid platform for the half-back after Weepu and Smith were hassled in the previous two Tests. Their inability to present the ball accurately at the breakdown continues to frustrate their coach. “We’ve got to get quicker ball, we’ve got to win the collision as the ball carrier and get our cleanout right. We’ve got to keep the big Argentinian forwards from going off their feet, killing our ball and slowing our ball,” Steve Hansen has said.


Rugby Championship Odds

While Los Pumas have yet to pick up a win in the Rugby Championship, they have been fiercely competitive and have given South African, Kiwi and Australian supporters a real scare in their last three Tests. Argentina just need to find a way to avoid fading in the last quarter of the game. This is especially the case against the All Blacks, who are arguably the fittest side in the world.

I’m going to use recent history as a guide and predict that Argentina will be competitive for the first 65 minutes before the All Blacks pick up some late points. Based on this the following bets stand out to me:

Half-time handicap: Argentina +6.0 — 1.97 (Sportsbet)
All Blacks to win by 1-12 — 2.80 (Luxbet)
Highest scoring half: 2nd — 1.83 (bet365)
Argentina to score first — 2.50 (bet365)
All Blacks to score last — 1.50 (bet365)

In the try scorer market, All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg (3.00 with Sportsbet) has scored in three of the four Tests this series, while Cory Jane (2.70 with Sportsbet) has scored in two. Both are reasonably good value, although I wouldn’t touch them in the first try scorer market given how strong Argentina have been in the opening 60 minutes. Cory Jane and Israel Dagg are 9.50 and 11.00, respectively, in the last try scorer market, which is worth considering.

A comparison of live bookmaker odds for this fixture can be found in the Live Odds section.

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