Preview: Argentina v Georgia

Date published: September 24 2015

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It seems incredible to think that after Sunday's impressive display against New Zealand that Argentina are one loss from elimination.

While they go into their clash with Georgia as strong favourites, an upset would effectively end their tournament, or at least leave them needing Namibia to do them a favour.

With that in mind, Daniel Hourcade has taken no chances for Friday's clash in Gloucester, putting faith in the majority of the players who pushed the All Blacks close.

Fatigue is of course an issue, with Georgia getting an extra day's rest, but the Pumas have the pedigree to get the job done.

The battle up front will be ferocious, and even without the injured Davit Kubriashvili, Georgia have formidable front row depth.

The Pumas got the edge over New Zealand in that department though, and will expect to get parity at least.

It was in the three-quarters that Argentina looked more dangerous though, and it's clear that playing top level opposition on a regular basis has done them a lot of good.

Georgia still have to fight for scraps when it comes to tier one matches, but their win over Tonga showed they are worthy of more big games.

Another win on Friday and World Rugby won't be able to ignore them any longer, particularly with Italy's struggles in Pool D.

It's unlikely, and the Lelos' strength is still almost entirely concentrated in their forward pack, but if Argentina take them lightly, they could be in for a bloody nose.

Players to watch: 

For Argentina: Juan Martin Hernandez was one of the stars of the last World Cup to take place in Europe and if Sunday's game against the All Blacks was anything to go by, the same is on the cards in this year's tournament. El Mago showed off all his tricks with some mesmerising passes out of the back of the hand and clever flicks as New Zealand chased shadows. Nicolas Sanchez might be playing at fly-half, but it's Hernandez who pulls the strings for the Pumas.

For Georgia: It was hardly a surprise, but Mamuka Gorgodze was everywhere for Georgia in their World Cup opener against Tonga. The powerful number eight has struggled for game time since a move to Toulon, but he didn't look rusty in the slightest as he scored one try, tackled his heart out and virtually carried Georgia to victory on his back. Expect another inspirational performance against the Pumas.

Head-to-head: How can we go for anything other than the scrum battle? Romania and France might have something to say about it, but these could be the two most formidable set-pieces in the competition. Davit Zirakashvili and Marcos Ayerza will lock horns as two of the most experienced scrummagers in European rugby, while on the other side Mikheil Nariashvili has been outstanding for Montpellier. Argentina tighthead Nahuel Tetaz has also stepped up admirably in the absence of Juan Figallo, and for lovers of the scrum, there is no more tantalising encounter.

Team news: Argentina have made three changes from the team that went down to New Zealand, with Facundo Isa and Juan Manuel Leguizamon both coming into the back row. They come in for Leonardo Senatore and Pablo Matera respectively, while Guido Petti also misses out in the second row. In his place comes Matias Alemanno, while Javier Desio is included on the bench.

Georgia, meanwhile, have made no changes from the team that knocked off Tonga, with Mamuka Gorgodze again leading the side. Milton Haig has kept faith with the same 23 that impressed at Kingsholm on Saturday.

Previous results:

2013: Argentina won 29-13 in San Juan
2007: Argentina won 25-7 in Palmerston North
2003: Argentina won 33-3 in Lyon

Prediction: Argentina are taking no chances and have put out their strongest possible squad. The Georgians impressed against Tonga but it's hard to see them repeating the trick against the Pumas. Argentina by 15!

The teams:

Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Juan Martin Hernandez, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 6 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustin Creevy (c), 1 Marcos Ayerza

Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Ramiro Herrera, 19 Javier Ortega Desio, 20 Pablo Matera, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 23 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino

Georgia: 15 Merab Kvirikashvili, 14 Tamaz Mchedlidze, 13 Davit Kacharava, 12 Merab Sharikadze, 11 Giorgi Aptsiauri, 10 Lasha Malaguradze, 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 8 Mamuka Gorgodze (c), 7 Viktor Kolelishvili, 6 Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, 5 Konstantin Mikautadze, 4 Giorgi Nemsadze, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili
Replacements: 16 Shalva Mamukashvili, 17 Karlen Asieshvili, 18 Levan Chilachava, 19 Levan Datunashvili, 20 Shalva Sutiashvili, 21 Giorgi Begadze, 22 Giorgi Pruidze, 23 Muraz Giorgadze

Date: Friday, September 25
Venue: Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester
Kick-off: 16:45 local 
Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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