Friday, May 1, 2015

International Rugby: Argentina v USA Select XV Lineups

The lineups for the USA Select XV's third and final match in South America have been finalized. Coaches Daniel Hourcade and Mike Tolkin have both opted for changes from their respective teams that met on Tuesday in a game won 54-6 by the home side. The Argentine side is to feature seven changes while a much changes North American side provides Tolkin with a team similar to that which defeated Uruguay 13-3 in the tour opener. The match is to be played at the Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena in Salta on Saturday afternoon local time. Should the World Cup be staged in Argentina in 2023 the venue would be an appropriate option to host pool matches. It played host to Argentina v South Africa in 2014.  

Two notably different starting lineups have been announced for the second of two friendlies between Argentina and the USA Select XV in Salta on Saturday. Mike Tolkin has rotated his team significantly to the extent that it is close to replicating the team that faced Uruguay on Thursday of last week. Hourcade has made modifications to give more players an opportunity to perform. 

The front-row battle is likely to go more in Argentina's favor than was the case in Tuesday's fixture. Hourcade has made two alterations with the respected scrumaging loosehead prop Lucas Noguera Paz starting. He will face Chris Baumann who is to have a genuine pre-World Cup assignment. 

Noguera Paz was Argentina's number two loosehead in 2014 and is tipped as being the player to replace Marcos Ayerza who is to retire from international duty after the World Cup. Joining Noguera Paz in a young front-row will be Matías Díaz and Santiago González Valdez both of whom have been used under Hourcade in the past. They will play opposite Olive Kilifi and Zach Fenoglio, two players with strong chances of making the Eagles World Cup squad. 

The USA's lineup is arguably at its point strongest in the second-row. Lou Stanfill is the seventh most capped Eagle of all time and likely to end 2014 as fifth if not higher. He will be joined by John Cullen who impressed last November on tour with the Eagles in Europe. They are to face Matías Alemanno and Guido Petti Pagadizabal, two players to have been utilized ahead of Patricio Albacete and Manuel Carizza by Hourcade. 

Similar to the second-row battle that of the back-row is to feature leading players. Tolkin is to field John Quill, Matt Trouville and Al McFarland. Of the three two are very much in the frame for World Cup selection. Both Tomás Lezana and Javier Ortega Desio were involved in Argentina's win in Paris Joining them will be Lisandro Ahualli de Chazal at the back of the scrum. 

The starting scrumhalves, Martín Landajo and Shalom Suniula are both top two options in their position for their respective countries. Playing outside them at fly half are fringe players in the position but players who are, nonetheless, in strong positions to be selected for World Cup duty. Santiago González Iglesias received game time mainly in the mid-field in 2014 while AJ MacGinty is a promising player in a position in which the USA has had difficulties to find consistency. 

Gabriel Ascárate and Matías Moroni are two further Argentine players contracted to the UAR. Their mid-field combination is not one of experience however with both having gotten to this point in their careers very differently. The same is true of their opponents as Ronnie McLean and Seamus Kelly are to form the North Americans 12-13 combination. Kelly is among the best finds for the USA since 2011  and is a certainty in Tolkin's World Cup squad. 

Both teams are to field players in the starting back-three who are considered highly likely to play in the World Cup. Manuel Montero and Tim Stanfill both evolved in test colors in 2014 and are chasing down starting players ahead of professional players contracted to European clubs. Montero is to be joined by Matiás Orlando and Ramiro Moyano, two UAR contracted players but fringe players in terms of World Cup selection. They will go up against Troy Hall and Zach Pangelinan who are also wider Eagles options.

Kick-off in Salta is scheduled for 5:10pm local time. Despite both teams featuring a host of players certain to be involved in Rugby World Cup 2015 in September and October the fixture is uncapped. As such World Rankings will not be on the line. 

United States
Lucas Noguera Paz
Olive Kilifi
Santiago González Valdez
Zach Fenoglio
Matías Díaz
Chris Baumann
Guido Petti Pagadizabal
Lou Stanfill
Matías Alemanno
John Cullen
Tomás Lezana
Al McFarland
Javier Ortega Desio
John Quill
Lisandro Ahualli de Chazal
Matt Trouville
Martín Landajo
Shalom Suniula
Santiago González Iglesias
AJ MacGinty
Manuel Montero
Tim Stanfill
Gabriel Ascárate
Ronnie McLean
Matías Moroni
Seamus Kelly
Matías Orlando
Zach Pangelinan
Ramiro Moyano
Troy Hall
Matías Cortese
Phil Thiel
Bruno Postiglioni
Mike Shepard
Roberto Tejerizo
Nick Wallace
Facundo Isa
Bem Landry
Pablo Matera
Nick Barrett
Tomás Cubelli
Niku Kruger
Bautista Ezcurra
Lemoto Filikitonga
Jerónimo De La Fuente
Colton Cariaga

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