|Pumas Scrum forces New Zealand to retreat|
Veteran All Black loosehead prop Tony Woodcok is highly regarded in his home country as being about as good as they come. Capped more than 100 times Woodcock was dominated by Juan Figallo last Saturday in Hamilton in the round three Rugby Championship match.
For front-rowers world wide it was a day for celebration as it marked the return of the Bajada, Argentina´s eight man scrum which utilizers a low body position to force back the opposition. Argentina´s scrum in recent years has lacked the penetration of the past with names such as Omar Hasan, Mauricio Reggiardo, Roberto Grau, Rodrigo Roncero and Martín Scelzo having been highly regarded while playing professional rugby in Europe and while pulling on a Pumas uniform.
Saturday´s Rugby Championship match against the All Blacks showed that the new scrum laws of crouch, bind, set are very much technical in their orientation and less about power. Indeed Argentina´s pack was lighter than the All Blacks but the technique of the bajada saw the South Americans pushing back New Zealand. Only two weeks earlier New Zealand had bullied the Wallabies with Tony Woodcock having been praised. Planet Rugby named Woodcock as the best loosehead prop of round two and said he was the destroter-in-chief at the scrums, pushing his direct opponent, Ben Alexander back several metres, on a couple of occassions.
Woodcock though was not the same in Hamilton as Figallo out-played the All Black at scrum time. Figallo started with Eusebio Guiñazú and Marcos Ayerza and together they were able to form a solid combination. The good news is that even with substitutions the scrum remained firm as Juan Pablo Orlandi, Agustín Creevy and Nahuel Lobo all came on and the scrum continued to advance.
This Saturday in Perth Australia will be needing to have a quick scrum feed and find a manner in which to keep the Pumas scrum at bay. The signs are not so as Argentina would appear likely to hold a significant weapon which Australia is likely to have no answer to. Should form prove to be true then Argentina could very well benefit from being awarded penalties from the problematic Wallaby scrum. Moreover with Welshman Nigel Owens in charge as the referee the team led by Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe should have extra confidence.