Preview: Argentina v Ireland

Date published: June 13 2014

Concluding their two-Test tour in unforgiving Tucumán, Ireland will hope to improve against a dogged Argentina outfit on Saturday.

Concluding their two-Test tour in unforgiving Tucumán, Ireland will hope to improve against a dogged Argentina outfit on Saturday.

What little was known about Argentina's depleted squad before taking on Ireland in Resistencia was soon answered with a spirited effort from the hosts, taking on their visitors in the contact areas and scoring a pearl of a try through the highly-rated Manuel Montero.

Ireland though should have been relatively happy, ignoring the late try from Tomás De la Vega that put some gloss on the scoreline for the home side.

Scoring 29 points and three tries away from home in a Test is always a good accomplishment.

Joe Schmidt's men certainly didn't have it all their own way though, made to work for their lead before a trademark Jonathan Sexton wraparound score followed by Andrew Trimble's interception rounded things off.

Paul O'Connell's utterances afterwards of how physical the Test was can be seen as praise for the Pumas.

His disappointment however with the overall performance, along with Joe Schmidt's expectation for his team to improve, mean we should see a more cohesive and clinical Irish effort this weekend.

The slight edge of rustiness to their outing in the north of the country was justifiable given it was Ireland's first runout since winning in Paris. Schmidt though will have been annoyed by the soft defence for Argentina's tries.

Eight changes in all for the second Test see the return of senior figures such as Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip, while Rhys Ruddock finally wins his first start on the blindside in place of Robbie Diack – who impressed in the first Test but doesn't make the matchday squad this time round. Reuniting Devin Toner with Paul O'Connell gives Ireland their best lineout duo.

What about the Pumas though. Tenacious last week at times, the loss of Benjamin Macome at number eight is a real shame after his impressive outing.

Talented youngster Santiago Cordero is sacrificed for the experience of Lucas González Amorosino as Argentina otherwise remain unchanged, hungry for a second crack at an Ireland side with a big reputation following their Six Nations triumph.

There is real talent in their squad, even without the more established internationals. Gabriel Ascárate, Ramiro Herrera and others all stood out last weekend – Herrera will certainly give Dave Kilcoyne a thorough test.

With the surprise factor gone however for this week, their effectiveness remains to be seen.

Ones to Watch:

For Argentina: The reputation of Martín Landajo is not without substantial foundation. Impressive in Resistencia, Landajo's distribution and vision are first-rate, as he has proved against the world's best sides in Test rugby. A key player for Argentina ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup.

For Ireland: For the next audition to fill Ireland's 13 shirt, enter Fergus McFadden. Possessing a strong skill set, the question is whether McFadden has the elusiveness required to make an impact in that channel at the highest level. With Darren Cave doing well last week and now moving infield, the pressure is on.

Head to Head: The two pivots. When he is on song, Nicolás Sánchez can be a brilliant fly-half, full of deft passes and awareness. The problem that has plagued him in the Top 14 has been his inability to fully control matches. That's something which Jonathan Sexton rarely struggles with, his try last week reminding us that he has speed in his arsenal along with the finer touches off the boot and out of hand. He can be the difference in what will be a cauldron of an atmosphere.

Previous Results:

2014: Ireland won 29-17 in Resistencia
2012: Ireland won 46-24 in Dublin
2010: Ireland won 29-9 in Dublin
2008: Ireland won 17-3 in Dublin
2007: Argentina won 30-15 in Paris
2007: Argentina won 16-0 in Buenos Aires
2007: Argentina won 22-20 in Santa Fe
2004: Ireland won 21-19 in Dublin
2003: Ireland won 16-15 in Adelaide

Prediction: Both teams have room for improvement and Ireland will have a better idea of the challenge they are up against. But eager to correct their shortcomings from last week, the expectation should be to win the series 2-0 and to kick on in Tucumán. Ireland by 15.

The teams:

Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Lucas González Amorosino, 13 Jerónimo De la Fuente, 12 Gabriel Ascárate, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo (captain), 8 Antonio Ahualli de Chazal, 7 Tomás De la Vega, 6 Rodrigo Báez, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Matías Cortese, 1 Lucas Noguera Paz.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Iglesias Valdez, 17 Bruno Postiglioni, 18 Matías Díaz, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Matías Orlando.

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Fergus McFadden, 12 Darren Cave, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best , 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements:16 Rob Herring, 17 James Cronin, 18 Jack McGrath, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Noel Reid

Date: Saturday, June 14
Kick-off: 15:40 (local, 18:40 GMT)
Venue: Estadio José Fierro, Tucumán
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant Referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), John Lacey (Ireland)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)