Thursday, September 6, 2012

New Zealand v Argentina Preview

Photo  Crédito: Rodrigo Vergara - UAR

There are more than just a few Kiwi´s who have changed their opinion about Los Pumas recently. The South Americans draw in Mendoza caught the attention of many and the result could not be ignored. It was a 16-16 draw that should have been a victory and it was against South Africa, the team with the best record against the All Blacks. Argentina´s arrival in The Rugby Championship has made it a team of four quality teams and not a competition with the world´s three best and a distant fourth participant. Los Pumas have long had the respect of Europeans and now the rest of the rugby world is becoming increasingly familiar to a growing power from South America. 

Rugby fans from the Tri Nations have seen so little of Los Pumas that in some ways it can be understood as to why so many have thought Argentina are closer to the ability of a Tier Two side than to a World Cup champion. It, of course, ignores Argentina´s list of wins over all Six Nations teams and the long list of players contracted to the best teams from England and France. But it is, nonetheless, understandable. The World Cup clash against the All Blacks last October was the first test between New Zealand and Argentina since 2006 while Australia have not faced Argentina since 2003. 

The big name players that have been winning championship titles for European clubs are now winning the praise of the New Zealand media. A quick search on Rodrigo Roncero see´s that he is not just 35 years old but he is also a multiple time French Champion. Juan Martín Hernández was his teammate, while Patricio Albacete is a five time French champion and a Heineken Cup champion. Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe has captained the Sale Sharks and Toulon, Horacio Agulla was player of the year for Leicester and Gonzalo Camacho was Game Changer of the season in England. The list goes on. Argentina have a talented list of professionals who have been amongst the best in Europe for a long time. 

New Zealand is on top of the world and there is little to suggest the most dominant team in the world is going to drop in the rankings. The number one v two clash against the Wallabies did not live up to the billing. New Zealand was too strong with Australia not able to win any major battle whatsoever. Argentina, in contrast, faced a team ranked five places higher and did succeed in controlling a lot of play. Noticable was a vastly improved lineout in comparison to 2011. The scrum remains solid and Argentina is getting number to the breakdown. The style of play is a mixture between the traditional Pumas play over the past five years with some more play from the backs. The backs could be used more and over time this will be the plan.  For now Argentina will continue to be conservative. 

October 30 1976 Argentina 9-21 New Zealand
November 06 1976 Argentina 6-26 New Zealand
September 08 1979 New Zealand 19-9 Argentina
September 15 1989 New Zealand 15-6 Argentina
October 26 1985 Argentina 20-33 New Zealand
November 02 1985 Argentina 21-21 New Zealand
June 01 1987 New Zealand 46-15 Argentina
July 15 1989 New Zealand 30-09 Argentina
July 29 1989 New Zealand 49-12 Argentina
July 06 1991 Argentina 14-18 New Zealand
July 13 1991 Argentina 06-36 New Zealand
June 21 1997 New Zealand 93-08 Argentina
June 28 1997 New Zealand 62-10 Argentina
June 23 2001 New Zealand 67-19 Argentina
December 01 2001 Argentina 20-24 New Zealand
June 26 2004 New Zealand 41-07 Argentina
June 24 2006 Argentina 19-25 New Zealand
October 09 2011 New Zealand 33-10 Argentina

Key Match Up
The second instalment of Carter v Hernández will not eventuate. The All Blacks flyhalf will  miss the match with a calf injury. The two have only played eachother once previously in a flyhalf v flyhalf match-up. It was in January 2009 in a Perpignan v Stade Français match at the Stade de France. Owen Franks v Rodrigo Roncero is a clash of the generations with both players being amongst the best. On the other side of the scrum is another big clash between Tony Woodcock and Juan Figallo. Another key clash in the forwards will be Richie McCaw v Juan Leguizamón. The two play drastically different styles of rugby but both share the two key skills - their speed and their tackling. But the most interesting matchup will be in the backs and, in fact on the wing. Julian Savea v Gonzalo Camacho sees a massive speedster taking on a small, light-weight player who has been arguablty the best winger so far in The Rugby Championship. Savea will attack Camacho and Camacho will welcome it and offer his own surpirzes in return. 

All signs are for a New Zealand victory. New Zealand is coming off two effortless wins over Australia and a three test series win against Ireland. New Zealand completed an unthinkable 60-0 win over Ireland in Hamilton in June. New Zealand´s wins were not so strong, however. Curiously the All Blacks did not manage a bonus point in either match against the Wallabies. Argentina defended well in Mendoza, conceeding only one try from a moment of bad luck as Marcelo Bosch had a kick charged down. This match could be close and should be in the first half. Argentina will, like at the World Cup, likely be out played in the final quarter but if the South Americans can compete until then they will have a real chance of a win. New Zealand to win by 6

New Zealand

15 Israel Dagg
14 Corey Jane
13 Conrad Smith
12 Ma´a Nonu
11 Julian Savea
10 Aaron Cruden
9 Aaron Smith
8 Kieran Read 
7 Richie McCaw
6 Victor Vito
5 Brodie Retallick
4 Luke Romano
3 Owen Franks
2 Keven Mealamu
1 Tony Woodcock

16 Andrew Hore
17 Charlie Faumuina
18 Sam Whitelock
19 Liam Messam
20 Piri Weepu
21 Beauden Barrett
22 Ben Smith

15 Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga
14 Gonzalo Camacho
13 Marcelo Bosch
12 Santiago Fernández
11 Horacio Agulla
10 Juan Martín Hernández
9 Nicolás Vergallo
8 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe (C)
7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón
6 Julio Farías Cabello
5 Patricio Albacete
4 Manuel Carizza
3 Juan Figallo
2 Eusebio Guinãzú
1 Rodrigo Roncero

16 Agustín Creevy
17 Marcos Ayerza
18 Juan Pablo Orlandi
19 Tomás Leonardí
20 Leonardo Senatore
21 Martín Landajo
22 Lucas González Amorosino


  1. Generous prediction for the Pumas there, especially seeing as a misfiring South Africa could manage an easy win over them in the first round.

  2. This is a difficult game to preview because unlike south africa who is one dimensional and predictable....the AB's are like the many variables....and in a way i think the Pumas are also not so simple any more....they are adding new facets to their game every week....we will present a sterner challenge than Australia....i dont think we will loose by 20 and if we keep it close....who knows ???? The key is field position....and you cant do field position without decent posesion....without confidence and control....and distribution.... other than your forwards....our half backs need to let loose more....take risks.... and make it a 15 man game....agulla and camacho will be good barometers....if they are getting the ball we are probably going to see a close game....also tighten up the kicking game considerably....i really dont want to see ANY balls being hung up in the sky of Newlands without an all out assault to get it back....kick short or box them in....other than that there isn't much else you can say about a game like this other than lets enjoy it because for Argentina its like a coming out party....also my pet peeve with the Pumas so far....vegallo needs to be more vertical and chili pepper from time to time and take advantage of his delta rocket attacking sleep....and in a few hours its game time....yeyyyy sweet !!!!