Pumas look to bounce back after mauling
August 22, 2013
Argentina crashed to a huge defeat to South Africa last weekend © Getty Images
Argentina will hope to regain some face when they come up against the Springboks in Mendoza on Saturday.
The Pumas were humbled by South Africa last weekend as the Boks put nine tries on them and stormed to a record 73-13 triumph. It was the second biggest loss in Argentina's history following New Zealand's 93-8 triumph in 1997. For those who watched last year's Rugby Championship and have followed the Pumas' progress the last few seasons, it was a shock to see them capitulate in that manner.
Head to Head
It was far too easy for the Springboks as they had free reign in Soweto. Willie le Roux excelled at fullback with JJ Engelbrecht, Adriaan Strauss, Morne Steyn and Duane Vermeulen all putting in noticeable performances. The Pumas have already spoken about how they were "broken" by the Boks onslaught, but the beauty of rugby is that last week's game is now history and they can bounce back on Saturday.
And they will look to harness the same sort of spirit that saw them draw 16-16 with the Boks in the corresponding fixture last season. It was the closest the Pumas came to winning a match in their first foray into the elite southern hemisphere tournament.
Argentina - Player to Watch: It will be worth keeping an eye on Gonzalo Camacho this week. He was largely ineffectual last Saturday and will hope for a better showing in front of the Argentinian crowd.
Argentina - Team News: Juan Martin Hernandez has been ruled out through injury so Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino starts at fullback. And in a further change to the backs, Bath's Horacio Agulla gets the nod on the wing in place of Juan Imhoff who is named on the bench. In the front-row Marcos Ayerza has recovered from injury and takes his place at loose-head with Juan Figallo moving across to tight-head. In the locks, Julio Farias Cabello and Mariano Galarza start in place of Patricio Albacete and Manuel Carizza.
South Africa - Player to Watch: Willie le Roux was sensational for the Boks last week and may just be the long-term answer to their fullback problem which has been a conundrum ever since Percy Montgomery hung up his boots.
South Africa - Team News: Unsurprisingly the Springboks have named the same starting line-up for the match in Argentina with the only change coming on the bench with Jano Vermaak replacing Fourie du Preez who is unavailable due to his club commitments with the Suntory Sungoliath.
South Africa had much to celebrate last weekend © Getty Images
Key Battle: Argentina must improve all over the field if they are to get anything out of Saturday's match. Their front-row needs to provide a reliable anchor to the scrum while the half-backs must secure quick-ball at the set piece to cause the Boks some headaches. So for us, the key battle on Saturday is the Pumas themselves; to a man they will need to find renewed motivation and efficiency to halt the bulldozing wall of green and gold.
Trivia: South Africa's total of 73 points last weekend was the eighth highest haul in their Test history.
Stats: Bryan Habana needs one try to equal ex-All Black Christian Cullen's record of 16 in the competition.
"We experienced first-hand how passionate their supporters are last year, and how they can lift the Pumas" - Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer on what awaits his team in Argentina
Betting: A South Africa win of 56 points or more is 28/1 with bet365. It is also probably worth a punt on Argentina to score last at 6/4.
Prediction: The Boks will make it two from two against the Pumas but the margin of victory will be less than seven points.
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Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.