Friday, September 16, 2011

Rugby World Cup 2011 - Argentina vs Romania Preview

The second round of pool matches sees two losers from last Saturday go head-to-head in New Zealand´s deep south city of Invercargill. Both Argentina and Romania were unlucky to lose their opening match vs England and Scotland and neither can afford to lose this Saturday´s encounter given that only the top two sides from each pool advance to the Quarter Finals. Argentina lost 14-9 against England after having been in control of the match while Romania were tied 24-24 with Scotland with less than ten minutes of play remaning. Scotland got the win by scoring two late tries to score a bonus point for scoring four tries in their 34-24 victory. Argentina, in losing by less than seven points, scored a bonus point.

The two sides have played each other on seven occassions previously with Los Pumas winning every match. The first match took place in 1973 and the most recent match in 2003, at the Rugby World Cup. In 2003 Argentina won 50-3. On that day Argentina´s star was Juan Martín Hernández who was playing fullback and he scored two tries. Backrower Pablo Bouza also scored twice. At that time Romania was going through a number of problems with playing numbers and finances that had a serious impact on the national team. The side has been able to recover and be more competitive, with results in 2011 being encouraging. When Juan Martín hernández was injured in November 2008 Argentina opted to play an uncapped amateur flyhalf vs Ireland in Santiago Fernández. Since then he has been a permanent member of the side, usually as inside centre, but will face Romania in the 10 shirt.

Key Matchup

Both sides are famous for their forwards and Romania can match it with anybody in the frontrow. It is here where Romania are the most competitive and the side really pushed Scotland hard in this department. Romania´s trio or Paulica Ion, Marius Tincu and Mihaita Lazar were standout performers. All three will start vs Argentina and the battle vs Rodrigo Roncero, Mario Ledesma and Juan Figallo will be key to how the match unfolds. Elsewhere in the forwards the Perpignan vs Lyon battle of Ovidiu Tonita vs Juan Leguizamón will be an interesting one to follow as two outstanding backrowers with vastly differenr playing styles compete at the breakdown. Argentina should be too strong in the backs and Romania have made changes here fromt he side that faced Scotland. Flyhalf Marin Dumbrava has been replaced by Tiberius Dimofte who played inside centre vs Scotland. Los Pumas have done the same thing with inside centre Santiago Fernández named to play flyhalf in place of the injured Felipe Contepomi. Ionel Cazan and Florin Surugiu have both also been selected. The key match may well be that of Marcelo Bosch vs Csaba Gal with both needing to organize the defensive line and help create opportunities for the back-three.

Prediction

Argentina has a side packed with world class players who play professionally for leading sides in England and France. Romania also have professional players in these countries but barely as many as the majority play in Romania. Argentina´s choice of fielding a full strength team rather than a weakened one is a sign of respect for Romania as well as an urgent need for more game time for the South Americans. Argentina played only 18 matches in the years between France 2007 and New Zealand 2011. The players have been playing a lot, but for their clubs. The only Argentine based player in the starting XV is Julio Farías Cabello. It would thus appear to just be a matter of more game time together for Argentina to play to its potential. Coach Santiago Phelan is using the match to prepare for Scotland by giving players match time now. Los Pumas should win the match comfortably. Argentina to win by 35 points.

Argentina

1 Rodrigo Roncero
2 Mario Ledesma
3 Juan Figallo
4 Manuel Carizza
5 Patricio Albacete
6 Julio Farías Cabello
7 Juan Leguizamón
8 Juan Fernández Lobbe (Captain)
9 Nicolás Vergallo
10 Santiago Fernández
11 Horacio Agulla
12 Martin Rodríguez Gurruchaga
13 Marcelo Bosch
14 Gonzalo Camacho
15 Lucas González Amorosino

Reserves

16 Agustín Creevy
17 Martín Scelzo
18 Mariano Galarza
19 Alejandro Campos
20 Alfredo Lalanne
21 Nicolás Sánchez
22 Juan Imhoff

Romania

1 Mihaita Lazar
2 Marius Tincu (Captain)
3 Paulica Ion
4 Valentin Ursache
5 Cristian Petre
6 Mihai Macovei
7 Ovidiu Tonita
8 Daniel Carpo
9 Florin Surugiu
10 Tiberius Ionut Dimofte
11 Ionel Cazan
12 Constantin Gheara
13 Csaba Gal
14 Madalin Lemnaru
15 Iulian Dumitras

Reserves

16 Bogdan Suman
17 Silviu Florea
18 Valentin Poparlan
19 Daniel Ianus
20 Valentin Calafeteanu
21 Marin Dumbrava
22 Florin Vlaicu

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