Pumas target beleagured Wallabies for first win
October 4, 2012
Argentina found it hard going against the All Blacks and will hope to bounce back against Australia © Getty Images
Argentina welcome Australia to Rosario on Saturday searching for their first win in the Rugby Championship.
The Pumas have received widespread praise for their performances in the inaugural Rugby Championship against the big southern hemisphere three but are yet to register a victory. They have come close in the past when they drew with South Africa back in Round 2 of the tournament and also held a commanding 19-3 lead over Australia in Round 4 before eventually losing 23-19. Last weekend they came up against a resolute All Blacks side who stormed to a seven-try 54-15 win in La Plata. While Santiago Phelan will be granted some leeway in his first year in the newly expanded Tri-Nations tournament, his opposite number at Australia Robbie Deans is under huge pressure to turn around the Wallabies' form.
They were humbled last weekend against South Africa with Bryan Habana's hat-trick helping them to a 31-8 victory. While they have recorded two wins in this season's Championship, - against Argentina and South Africa - two victories in 16 matches against their trans-Tasman rivals the All Blacks coupled with the very public falling out between Quade Cooper and the Australian Rugby Union has turned up the heat on Deans. He has also not been helped by a long injury list with Adam Ashley-Cooper and Berrick Barnes joining it after last weekend's game.
Argentina - Player to Watch: It is likely to be loose-head's Rodrigo Roncero's last professional rugby match on Saturday. No one has worn the Argentinean shirt with more passion than the prop and while he can safely be labelled as a rugby veteran, he has been one of the standout players in the Championship.
Argentina - Team News: Argentina have named an unchanged XV for the match with the only changes coming on the bench. Leonardo Senatore and Nicolas Sanchez replace Tomas Vallejos and Martin Rodriguez Gurruchage.
Australia - Player to Watch: Mike Harris scored his first try for the Wallabies last weekend and he will hope to shine at fullback come Saturday. He turned out predominantly at fly-half for the Reds last season and possesses an accurate boot that will inevitably be utilised.
Australia - Team News: Deans has made five changes for the match with Mike Harris starting in place of Berrick Barnes, debutant Nick Cummins in for Dominic Shipperley and Ben Tapuai getting the nod instead of Adam Ashley-Cooper. In the forwards, Sitaleki Timani starts ahead of Dave Dennis and James Slipper is given the loose-head spot with Benn Robinson shifting to the bench.
Pat McCabe continues in the centres for the Wallabies © PA Photos
Key Battle: Nick Cummins will make his debut for the Wallabies on Saturday and he will come up against Horacio Agulla. The Bath winger is yet to make a dent in the tournament so he will be looking to exploit Cummins' inexperience on the flank - it should be a fascinating battle.
Trivia: Argentina have played just two previous Tests in Rosario, beating Romania 68-22 in 1998 and Scotland 21-15 10 years later. Current Pumas boss Santiago Phelan made his debut in the clash back in 1998 in the first of his 45 caps.
Stats: Nathan Sharpe's 110 caps make up 74.8% of the starting Wallabies packs' 147.
"I'm lucky because I had the chance to play with him and share some unique experiences." - Juan Manuel Leguizamon on retiring prop Rodrigo Roncero
"Nick has waited patiently for his chance, but has earned the right to represent his country" - Australia coach Robbie Deans on debutant Nick Cummins
Prediction: Argentina will record their first victory of the Championship with a narrow win
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies