Saturday, August 4, 2012

More questions than answers as Argentina lose at Vélez Sarsfeld

Gonzalo Camacho wears the
new Pumas Nike Shirt
Despite being the much better team, Argentina were defeated 25-21 today in Buenos Aires. The Santiago Phelan coached side was a mix of players certain to start against South Africa in two weeks time and some who can be classified as possibles. The mix failed to work as some simple errors from the South Americans handed the Top 14 club a victory. Phelan´ rotation of players in the match saw a total of thirteen substitutions and he may well regret the second half changes, especially in the final twenty minutes. 

Argentina had the game in the bag midway through the second half and Phelan changed many players. It proved fatal as the replacements failed to gel together and Stade Français was able to score the match winner with its only try of the match. Los Pumas played good rugby in general and different rugby to that of 2011. Juan Martín Hernández returned for the first time in three years to slot in nicely at pivot and created opportunities for the backs. With him at flyhalf Argentina looked much more dynamic. He contributed to the first try which was scored by Horacio Agulla. The former Leicester Tigers winger ran over former French international fullback Jerome Porical for the only try of the first half. It was a moment of genius after Hernández had gone through a half gap and brilliantly offloaded to Imhoff with a backhanded pass while he was being tackled. Agulla then bumped off one defender and fended another to score the try. It gave Argentina a 16-12 lead at the interval.

Hernández playing for Los Pumas
for the first time in three years
In the second half Argentina started well again and took a 21-12 lead after Juan Imhoff scored a try.  The try came from a lineout won by Juan Fernández Lobbe. It went through some hands before Hernández took his time to put Agulla into a gap and he attracted defenders before offloading to Imhoff who completed the try beside the corner flag. Stade Français hit back to make it 21-19 in favor of Argentina with thirteen minutes remaining. Hooker Laurent Sempere was the try scorer. He went over from a Stade Français lineout on the Pumas 5 metre line. It was a push over try that was well executed but Argentina were unlucky to have two players lose their footing during the lineout which created a hole. Argentina had suffered with Eusebio Guiñazú replacing Agustín Creevy in the 44th minute. Creevy´ substitution was injury forced and Argentina will need him to fully recover in time for The Rugby Championship. Stade Français went ahead in the 74th minute with a penalty goal and then landed anothern in the 78th minute to hold a six point lead. Argentina had a late chance to win but a knock-on ended the match.

It could have turned out differently altogether however as Agulla had appeared to have scored a try in the 20th minute. The future Bath winger had touched down to the right of the posts after finishing off a well worked move that saw Lucas González Amorosino do a loop around and run down the sideline before passing to Gonzalo Camacho who attracted two defenders before passing to Agulla for the try. González Amorosino was ruled to have put a foot on the touchline which meant the try was not awarded. 

Amongst the key points in terms of selection to come out of the match are the selection of players at scrumhalf, centre, wing and in the backrow. Nicolás Vergallo´ 68 minutes at scrumhalf were not at the level required and he does not appear to be the player to combine with Hernández in The Rugby Championship. His replacement, Agustín Figuerola, played with Nicolás Sánchez and similarly was not able to play the kind of rugby that the coaches are seemingly searching for. It would appear that the starting scrumhalf to face South Africa is either Martín Landajo or Tomás Cubelli. Both will be certain to feature in next weeks match in Santa Fé. 

Juan Imhoff and Horacio Agulla were Argentina´ best players at the only thing stopping then being the two wingers will now be the possibility of Agulla playing at outside centre. Replacement winger, Martín Bustos Moyano looks as being a must for the match day 22 because of his goalkicking. Hernández has not been a reliabel enough option for his country. Bustos Moyano should start in Santa Fé and weat the number 22 shirt against South Africa. It would mean Gonzalo Camacho is out of the team. Agulla got game time today at outside centre and could well start there in Santa Fé with Imhoff, Bustos Moyano and González Amorosino making up the back three.

Argentina were clearing lacking Juan Leguizamón today in the backrow. Without him Juan Fernández Lobbe was joined by Julio Farías Cabello and Tomás Leonardí in the backrow. Neither player, however, played well enough to start against the Springboks. Leguizamón ought to return to play in the 7 shirt and 21 year old Tomás De La Vega ought to be the 6. His game style as a fetcher is something Argentina have long been without and it was very much absent today. 

The other topic for change may well be the Pumas shirt supplied for Nike. Since replaceing Adidas Nike has supplied two different shirts. Today´ match was one made up mainly entirely of sky blue but there were not stripes. People on social networks have been displaying anger to it asking the UAR on both facebook and twitter to change the shirt.

Suggested Starting XV vs South Africa
15 Lucas González Amorosino
14 Horacio Agulla
13 Marcelo Bosch 
12 Santiago Fernández
11 Juan Imhoff
10 Juan Martín Hernández
9 Tomás Cubelli
8 Juan Fernández Lobbe
7 Juan Leguizamón
6 Tomás De La Vega
5 Patricio Albacete
4 Manuel Carizza
3 Juan Figallo 
2 Agustín Creevy
1 Marcos Ayerza

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