Argentina will aim to get their RWC campaign back on track when they face Romania at Rugby Park in Invercargill on Saturday.
Argentina will aim to get their World Cup campaign back on track when they face Romania at Rugby Park in Invercargill on Saturday.
A win is a must as the Pumas attempt to qualify as one of the two teams that will advance from Pool B to the quarter-final stage, and keep alive their hopes of once again reaching the last eight.
The battered and bruised South Americans suffered a devastating 13-9 loss to England in their World Cup opener after leading for much of the match and finished the game with a long injury list.
Centre Gonzalo Tiesi has subsequently been ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a leg injury, while fly-half and skipper Felipe Contepomi is Argentina's biggest casualty and is sidelined with badly bruised ribs.
Argentina also need to work on their goal-kicking and a huge improvement is required following their horror show from the tee that saw the flags raised only three times from nine attempts – costly misses that ultimately cost them the match against England.
Injuries, splintered morale and poor goal-kicking are setbacks that the Pumas must now quickly put behind them and focus at the new task at hand – beating an impressive-looking Romania outfit that pushed Scotland to the limit in their opener in Invercargill before losing 24-34.
Romania were left with some regrets over running out of steam against the overwhelming favourites after a powerful pack display which had Scotland on the back foot. Ten minutes – that's how close they were to achieving a historic victory.
Whilst the heartbreaking defeat will be a bitter pill to swallow after being written off by everyone but themselves, the Oaks have another chance – albeit even tougher – to upset the odds and knock over the top seeded side in their group.
With more confidence in their veins, the Romanians will be hopeful of recording their first win of the tournament, and will no doubt look to bludgeon the Pumas up front, utilising their hard working pack which was the dominant force for the majority of the game against Scotland.
Even though they have lost all seven games they have played against Argentina (including a 50-3 thumping in the 2003 World Cup), skipper and hooker Marius Tincu – who was outstanding against the Scots – believes that it could be a tight game this time.
“I saw the game against England and it was very physical,” he said.
“I think Scotland thought it wouldn't be a strong game against us, maybe they say that Romania is a little team, but I think the Argentina team watched the game and want to put the same level against us as England and it won't be easy.
“I know the guys from Argentina and they play good rugby, I think their squad is better than Scotland.”
Discipline will be key for both sides, perhaps even more so for the Romanians who can't afford to give away silly penalties and will need to stay on the right side of the law through to the 80th minute.
Ones to watch:
For Argentina: Both of our highlighted players are the captains of their respective teams, and both picked up man-of-the-match gongs in a losing side last weekend. Pumas loose forward Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe coupled rock-solid defence with powerful runs against the English, and will be required to do the same against Romania. Throw in leading the side in the absence of Felipe Contepomi, and there's no denying Lobbe is in for a busy day at the office.
For Romania: Once again it will be up to captain and skipper Marius Tincu to lead his team from the front. Subbed in the last crucial minutes against Scotland, hopefully Romania coach Romeo Stefan Gontinead will have learnt his lesson and keep the inspirational Tincu on to the end as his class and experience – having played against/with many of the Pumas on show this weekend in the Top 14 – will be key.
Head to head: There will be a whole lot of muscle on show in this Pool B clash. Argentina are acknowledged as a master of the scrummaging game but Romania's pack has the bulk and technique to match the Pumas up front. So expect a massive arm wrestle in the setpiece.
2003: Argentina won 50-3 in Sydney (RWC)
1998: Argentina won 68-22 in Rosario
1997: Argentina won 45-18 in Auch
1995: Argentina won 51-16 in Buenos Aires
1992: Argentina won 21-18 in Bucharest
Prediction: Romania showed against Scotland they are a team that cannot be taken lightly. If Argentina gets dragged into a purely physical confrontation, the Oaks could spring a surprise. But we think the Pumas will just have too much gas in their tank for the Romanians to keep up. Argentina by 15!
Argentina: 15 Lucas Gonzalez, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Martin Rodriguez, 12 Marcelo Bosch, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Santiago Fernandez, 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Mario Ledesma, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Martin Scelzo, 18 Mariano Galarza, 19 Alejandro Campos, 20 Alfredo Lalanne, 21 Nicolas Sanchez, 22 Juan Jose Imhoff.
Romania: 15 Iulian Dumitras, 14 Madalin Lemnaru, 13 Csaba Gal, 12 Constantin Gheara, 11 Ionel Cazan, 10 Tiberius Dimofte, 9 Florin Surugiu, 8 Daniel Carpo, 7 Ovidiu Tonita, 6 Mihai Macovei, 5 Cristian Petre, 4 Valentin Ursache, 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Marius Tincu (c), 1 Mihaita Lazar.
Replacements: 16 Bogdan Suman, 17 Silviu Florea, 18 Valentin Poparlan, 19 Daniel Ianus, 20 Valentin Calafeteanu, 21 Marin Dumbrava, 22 Florin Vlaicu
Date: Saturday, September 17
Kick-off: 15:30 (03:30 GMT)
Venue: Rugby Park, Invercargill
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa), Simon McDowell (Ireland)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)