Pumas target Wallabies for first win
September 13, 2012
Australia will hope to be celebrating again come Saturday © Getty Images
Australia tackle Argentina in the Rugby Championship on Saturday in what will be the first-ever Test match staged at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast.
The Wallabies edged past South Africa last weekend for their first win of the campaign to relieve some of the pressure on Robbie Deans following back-to-back defeat to fierce rivals New Zealand and a win against Argentina this weekend should be enough to keep the wolves from his door a little while longer.
But he will have to do it without his star scrum-half Will Genia who faces six months out of action following surgery on a knee injury and with the influential No.9 providing much of the Wallabies' spark thus far, they will have to find inspiration from a different quarter of the field come game day.
In their way lie the Pumas who impressed in defeat to New Zealand last weekend having gone toe-to-toe for much of the match and will fancy their chances against an injury-plagued Wallabies side having also earned a draw against South Africa earlier in the competition.
Australia - Player to Watch: Adam Ashley-Cooper pulled off a heroic double tackle last weekend and he is still one of the Wallabies' most potent weapons going forward. He starts at outside centre and they will look to get him on the ball as much as possible.
Australia - Team News: Nathan Sharpe captains the Wallabies in Genia's absence. Nick Phipps gets the nod at scrum-half with Pat McCabe also handed a start at inside centre. Berrick Barnes switches to fullback with Kurtley Beale dropped to the bench. Deans has also opted to hand Kane Douglas his debut with him replacing Sitaleki Timani in the second-row. Tatafu Polota Nau gets the nod at hooker with Stephen Moore or Saia Faingaa on the bench.
Argentina - Player to Watch: Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe could well hold a claim to being the player of the Rugby Championship thus far. He has been simply brilliant in his role as Pumas skipper, their No.8 and the man who has never shirked a tackle and has led from the front.
Argentina - Team News: Pumas coach Santiago Phelan has made two changes for the match and has dropped Nicolas Vergallo and Martin Rodriguez with Martin Landajo coming in at scrum-half and Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino starting at fullback. Second-row Patricio Albacete will earn his 50th cap on Saturday.
Key Battle: The battle of the fullbacks could be intriguing. Australia have Berrick Barnes at the back of the field while Argentina have drafted in Amorosino. Barnes prefers to kick rather than run while Amorosino is the opposite. There will be contrasting styles on show and whoever comes out on top could have a massive say on the outcome of the game.
Trivia: Only one player in the Australian side has any experience of playing against Argentina - Nathan Sharpe. He was in the Wallabies team that beat the Pumas 24-8 in their pool clash at the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Two players in Argentina's starting XV played that day - Patricio Albacete played opposite Sharpe in the second row while Juan Martin Hernandez came off the bench.
Stats: Australia are the only one of the southern hemisphere giants that Argentina have previously beaten. They have got the better of the Wallabies on four previous occasions - the most recent being an 18-16 success in Buenos Aires 15 years ago.
"No one else in the squad has played Argentina before but I have and they will be tough, incredibly passionate and uncompromising. You only have to look at what they have achieved to date in their tournament matches to see what a threat they will be." - Wallabies skipper Nathan Sharpe
"We have to keep on improving because we are playing the best teams in the world and we have to keep working to have a good game." - Argentina coach Santiago Phelan
Prediction: The Wallabies will win by a slim margin
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