Argentina look to fell Oaks
September 15, 2011
Mario Ledesma will look to lead from the front against Romania © Getty Images
Argentina came within a kiss of upsetting England in their attritional opening clash of the World Cup and with the physical Romanians lying in wait, expect more of the same in Invercargill on Saturday.
The Pumas were bullish up front against their English counterparts and had premier kicker Felipe Contepomi managed to stay on the field to step into the boots of misfiring Martin Rodriguez then the Pumas could have recorded their second shock opening win in as many World Cups. However, Ben Youngs crossed the line and the rest is history. But despite the narrow four points loss, the likes of the evergreen Mario Ledesma proved he still has plenty in the tank in his swansong tournament while Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe certainly made his presence felt.
And it is a similar tale of woe from their Romanian counterparts. Marin Dumbrava missed two key penalties to drive home his side's advantage against Scotland and they eventually went down thanks to two late tries from Simon Danielli.
While the likes of David Skrela, Andrew Sheridan and Jerry Flannery have been ruled out of the World Cup, the Pumas have not managed to escape the brutality of rugby with centre Gonzalo Tiesi forced to return home to Buenos Aires after feeling the full force of Courtney Lawes. And alongside Tiesi - the absence of Contepomi will be felt. He was one third of the genius behind their third place finish in 2007 along with Juan Martin Hernandez and Agustin Pichot. Despite the loss of the key duo, Santiago Phelan's side will be going all out to prove to the rest of Pool B - in the wake of Scotland's hard-fought win over Georgia - that they are the prime contenders to force their way into quarter-final reckoning.
Argentina - Player to Watch: Marcelo Bosch will hope to prove to coach Santiago Phelan that he is more than capable of stepping into the void left by the crocked Gonzalo Tiesi. The Biarritz centre would have hoped to have started their World Cup opener so expect him to be going all out to prove his ability come Saturday.
Argentina - Team News: Santiago Fernandez takes over at fly-half from Contepomi while Bosch comes into the outside centre berth in place of Tiesi. Lucas Amorisino starts at fullback with Gonzalo Camacho and the Horacio Agulla keeping their place on the wings. Fernandez will aim to guide the side from fly-half with Nicolas Vergallo starting at scrum-half. Rodrigo Roncero, Ledesma and Juan Figallo form the formidable Pumas' front-row with Patricio Albacete and Manuel Carizza providing the grunt in the second-row engine room. The back-row has a familiar look to it with Lobbe, Juan Manuel Leguizamon and Julio Farias Hair all starting.
Romania - Player to Watch: Daniel Carpo crossed the line for Romania in their opener and he will aim to replicate his try scoring form against the Pumas on Saturday. The No.8 has six tries to his name in his 33 appearances so is fully aware of what it takes to get across the whitewash.
Romania - Team News: Dumbrava has been dropped along with Tiberius Dimofte shifting into the fly-half berth. Constantin Gheara replaces Dimofte in the centres. Ionel Cazan takes his bow on the wing while Florin Surugiu comes into the side at scrum-half. They replace Stefan Ciuntu and Lucian Sirbu make way and fail to even make the bench. Inspirational Marius Tincu captains the side with Mihaita Lazar and Paulica Ion forming the rest of the front-row. Valentin Ursache and Cristian Petre start in the second-row berths with Mihai Macovei, Ovidiu Tonita and Daniel Carpo taking the back-row spots.
Key Battle: The battle of the hookers has epic written all over it. Tincu and Ledesma are both well versed in the brutality of the position thanks to the Top 14 and with traditionally leading by example, it should be a fierce encounter in the front-row.
Trivia: If the Pumas win the match, Mario Ledesma will become the first Argentinean to notch up ten World Cup wins.
Stats: The Pumas are 24 points short of reaching 10,000 points in their Test history.
"He (Contepomi) will be missed. He's our star, the leader and the captain who can make a difference. But we believe we have a strong squad."
"We worked on defence, because against Scotland it didn't work, it wasn't collective."
Prediction: Argentina will be out to make amends after their opening round loss to England while Romania will be smarting after recording an oh-so-close upset against the Scots. In a battle of the forwards, rare glimpses of the ball being spread to the wing will be enough for Argentina to record their opening win of the 2011 campaign.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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