The following is a preview of the Round 2 Rugby Championship clash between Argentina and South Africa at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza. The game kicks off at 5:10 AM AEST on Sunday, the 25th of August. The referee is Steve Walsh from Australia.
The Springboks humiliated Argentina in Johannesburg last week with a 73–13 victory. Los Pumas managed to keep the Springboks at bay for the first 30 minutes but a 29-minute penalty try opened the floodgates as the Springboks ran in nine tries to one. Below are last year’s results between the Springboks and Pumas:
25 Aug 2012 (Mendoza) – Argentina 16-16 South Africa
18 Aug 2012 (Cape Town) – South Africa 27-6 Argentina
Los Pumas have made five changes to the squad from last week, three of which are injury forced. They are again missing regular captain Fernandez Lobbe. Fullback Juan Martin Hernandez, lock Patricio Albacete and lock Manuel Carizza are out with injury and have been replaced by Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, Mariano Galarza and Julio Farias Cabello respectively. In one piece of good news, prop Marcos Ayerza returns to the squad after missing out last week with cartilage damage. He rejoins the starting fifteen with Matias Diaz dropping to the bench. In the backs, Horacio Agulla has been added to the wing at the expense of Juan Imhoff.
15. Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14. Gonzalo Camacho, 13. Marcelo Bosch, 12. Felipe Contepomi (captain), 11. Horacio Agulla, 10. Nicolas Sanchez, 9. Martin Landajo, 8. Leonardo Senatore, 7. Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6. Pablo Matera, 5. Mariano Galarza, 4. Julio Farias Cabello, 3. Juan Figallo, 2. Eusebio Guinazu, 1. Marcos Ayerza
Reserves: 16. Agustin Creevy, 17. Nahuel Lobo, 18. Matias Diaz, 19. Tomas Lavanini, 20. Benjamin Macome, 21. Tomas Cubelli, 22. Santiago Fernandez, 23. Juan Imhoff
The Springboks have opted for the same starting fifteen as last week. The only change sees Jano Vermaak replace Fourie du Pree on the bench.
15. Willie le Roux, 14. Bjorn Basson, 13. JJ Engelbrecht, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Morne Steyn, 9. Ruan Pienaar, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Francois Louw, 5. Juandre Kruger, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Adriaan Strauss, 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Reserves: 16. Bismarck du Plessis, 17. Guthro Steenkamp, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Flip van der Merwe, 20. Siya Kolisi, 21. Jano Vermaak, 22. Patrick Lambie, 23. Jan Serfontein
The Springboks broke their own 16-year record for the most points scored in a game last week. They dominated Los Pumas at set pieces and at the breakdown and were a class above in open play. The main issue for them is to avoid complacency. Last year they beat Argentina comfortably at home before stumbling to a draw in Argentina a week later.
Argentina are proving to be a mercurial side. In last year’s rugby championship they were comfortably beaten 27–6 by South Africa in Round 1 only to bounce back with a 16-16 draw against the Springboks the following week. They then pushed the All Blacks and Wallabies hard in their away legs in Rounds 3 and 4 before being hammered by the All Blacks at home in Round 5. This was followed up by a competitive loss to Australia in Round 6. In the end of year tour they upset Wales 12-26 in Cardiff only to be comprehensively beaten by France and Ireland. I’m discounting Argentina’s 51-26 defeat to England in June this year because they were missing their top professionals for that clash. Only four players from that Pumas defeat are in their current 26-man squad. Argentina are now tasked with bouncing back from a 60-point loss against a confident Springboks side that has been playing more expansive rugby this season.
While I expect a much improved performance from Argentina, I can’t look past the Springboks at the line. They are playing a more expansive style of rugby than in previous years and they have a lethal back line at their disposal. The All Blacks proved last year that the Los Pumas aren’t immune to heavy defeats at home so another mauling isn’t out of the question. The Springboks suffered a shock draw in Argentina this time last year so I don’t expect them to be complacent. Bonus points are critical in this competition so I expect them to push for four tries. I would back the Springboks -12.5 at the line with Centrebet or Sportingbet. Most other bookmakers have set a -13.5 line.
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