The IRB World Rankings are far from being perfect but they, nonetheless, are used to determine the seedings for Rugby World Cup´s and therefore are extremely important. Argentina´s inability to field its top players for all its sanctioned international matches mean it suffers the consequences of losing more matches than it araguably should and as such it does not have an accurate IRB World Ranking. In playing England without twenty-one players the Pumas team was evidently not a test side and a number of players representing Argentina were as low as the fourth choice player. This mattered not as IRB Rankings were being played for and with Argentina losing it could drop further from its currently debatable position of ninth in the world.
Argentina was not alone in fielding a vastly under strength side this weekend. The battle of the European v Asian Champions in Tokyo saw Wales fielding a side that was missing an entire XV of players to Lions duty. Japan took the bull by the horns to complete its first ever win over a side belonging to the former Five Nations or Tri Nations. Ireland was without many players too in its North American tour and very nearly lost against the USA last Saturday. England, with more depth, due to it having a twelve team professional competition in the form of the Aviva Premiership did not suffer the same impact as Wales or Ireland. Scotland was missing far fewer players but, nonetheless, missed key players and it impacted on its performances against Samoa and South Africa. Indeed, Scotland, could have won both but instead lost both and as such losses IRB Rankings points. Samoa and South Africa, in contrast, were at full strength.
Argentina was a better team in the second test than was the case seven days earlier in Salta. The final score of 51-26 was an improvement but was still clearly not sufficient. The proud Argentine scrum was destroyed as Argentina´s third choice players in all frontrow positions were badly outplayed and conceeded two penalty tries. The secondrow also lacked the stability of Patricio Albacete and Manuel Carizza which meant the scrum was further weakend. Julio Farías Cabello had moved into the secondrow in place of Esteban Lozada but the desired impact did not eventuate. Farías Cabello was, nonetheless, a good worker around the park as was his partner Mariano Galarza. The former Leinster secondrower was arguably the best Pumas forward. He was on hand regularly in support as a ball carrier and carried well.
Galarza put his name up for a place in the Rugby Championship and he is likely to be on the bench while ´try scorer Tomás Leonardí may well join him. Leonardí had a mixed performance but one that illustrated that despite him starting his career in Buenos Aires as a number eight that this is not his natural position. Rather, Leonardí is much better suited to the sie of the scrum as an openside flanker. His attributes are more suited to the position and with Leonardo Senatore being a specialist and both Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe and Juan Manuel Leguizamón having played at 8 for Argentina in Rugby World Cup matches it makes it all the more clear. Together Farías Cabello, Fernández Lobbe, Leonardí, Leguizamón and Senatore are certain to be the backrowers for the Rugby Championship with Tomás De La Vega likely to be cover.
|Tiesi had a high workrate v England|
The frontrowers will be the same as those currently being rested - Marcos Ayerza and Nahuel Lobo as the tighthead props, Juan Figallo and Juan Pablo Orlandi at tighthead and Agustín Creevy and Eusebio Guiñazú aas the hookers. Aside from scrumhalf there will be many changes in the backs with centres Felipe Contepomi and Gonzalo Tiesi the only ones likely to join the three scrumhalves Tomás Cubelli, Martín Landajo and Nicolás Vergallo in the squad. Contepomi played quite well against England in Buenos Aires. The team operated much better with him at flyhalf than it had with Benjamin Urdapilleta but Contepomi´s place in the Rugby Championship will be as a centre not a flyhalf given the options available. Nicolás Sánchez will start the tests with Juan Martín Hernández at fullback and he in addition to Santiago Fernández and Marcelo Bosch covering flyhalf. Fernández and Bosch are also centres as is Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga.
One of the biggest changes from Salta to Buenos Aires was the performance of fullback Martín Bustos Moyano who kicked six goals from six attempts to look like a genuine international player. His play at fullback was sound without being anything overly impressive. He will, however, not play in the Rugby Championship. He will be back in France but with Bayonne rather than Montpellier. Fullback will be covered by Hernández, Lucas González Amorosino and Joaquín Tuculet while neither Belisario Agulla nor Manuel Montero will play on the wings. Belisario Agulla´s opposite Marland Yarde scored twice with Agulla out of position while, in general, his defense lacked the required execution. Argentina will likely go to Juan Imhoff and Gonzalo Camacho for the Rugby Championship with Horacio Agulla also certain to be in the squad. Horacio Agulla though, ought to be given time at outside centre. He is Argentina´s best option as a ball carrier in the midfield and has played in the position for Bath. With Imhoff and Camacho being joined by González Amorosino as wingers it appears all the more logical.
A number of players from today´s match are in doubt for Argentina´s third and final home test this month. Pablo Henn had been used as a replacement at loosehead prop but did not last long as he had to be taken off after having suffered a torn calf in his right leg. He is therefore not going to face Georgia. Henn had replaced Guillermo Roan who is also not going to face the Eastern Europeans after he left with a neck injury. The extent of his injury is not yet known but it will certainly see him miss out on playing again this month. Bruno Postiglioni could therefore be drafted in to start at loosehead prop against Georgia.
Possibly Argentina´s best player, Gonzalo Tiesi went down hard after having collided with an Englishman and coming off second best in a headclash. He is to be evaluated and results should determine the possibility of him playing on Saturday. Argentine supporters can cross their fingers over Tiesi but they cannot over winger Manuel Montero who could well be out for the season with a serious knee injury. He was forced from the field in tears after landing awkwardly. Also in doubt are scrumhalf Nicolás Vergallo and backrower Rodrigo Báez but both should recover for Georgia.