Preview: Argentina v Tonga

Date published: October 2 2015

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Argentina will be eager to continue where they left off against Georgia in their previous match, when they face Tonga in their Pool C clash in Leicester.

Los Pumas have impressed in the tournament so far despite losing their opening match to New Zealand. Although the All Blacks ran out 26-16 winners, Argentina dominated for large periods and even led 13-12 at half-time.

After that impressive performance, against the world champions, Argentina stepped up a gear in their clash with Georgia before claiming a 54-9 victory at Kingsholm last Friday.

Argentina delivered an almost faultless second-half display in that clash, scoring 40 unanswered points after the break with wingers Santiago Cordero and Juan Imhoff leading the way with a brace of tries each.

That result was an indication of what los Pumas are capable of if they match their brilliant forward play – which they have been renowned for over the years – with an equally impressive display from their backs.

Like their opponents, Tonga are on a high despite a poor start to the competition. The Ikale Tahi suffered a 17-10 loss to Georgia in their opener before bouncing back in style with a 35-21 victory over Namibia on Tuesday.

The little rest afforded to tier two nations at this tournament has been well publicised and unfortunately that factor will again play a role in the outcome of this fixture.

Despite beating Namibia convincingly in the end, the Welwitchias' forwards were put in a physical effort which would have taken a heavy toll on Tonga's pack.

Argentina's forwards also thrive on physicality so Tonga can expect a torrid time up front, especially in the scrums where los Pumas always try to exert their dominance.

Tonga flanker Sione Kalamafoni admitted that his side face a tougher challenge than they had in their previous match against Namibia.

"Argentina will be a whole different ball game," he said.

"Their scrum is one of the best in the world."

Ones to Watch:

For Argentina: Inexperienced midfielders Jeronimo De La Fuente and Matias Moroni come into the run-on side as replacements for the vastly-experienced Juan Martín Hernández and Marcelo Bosch respectively. They have big boots to fill and know opportunities of this magnitude seldom come along on the Test stage. If they manage to create space for their outside backs and stand their ground on defence, we could see this duo lining up as Argentina's preferred centre combination in many more Tests in years to come.

For Tonga: The Ikale Tahi welcome back their skipper Nili Latu who missed the win over Namibia due to a hamstring injury. The Newcastle Falcons stalwart's decision-making will be important if Tonga want to get something from this game and his prowess at the breakdown will be play an important role in getting his side onto the front-foot.

Head-to-head: Tonga's powerhouse wing Fetu'u Vainikolo's duel with the diminutive Argentina flyer Santiago Cordero will be a battle between two players with opposing styles. Vainikolo is his country's leading try-scorer and relies on his power game to get the better of his opponents while Cordero is fleet-footed and his agility in one-on-one situations will test his bigger adversary. Both players have already made an impact on the tournament. Vainikolo's try in his side's defeat to Georgia was scored after 18 phases of play, the most phases before a try in the 2015 RWC so far. And Cordero had the best average gain rate of any player in the World Cup to make more than 10 carries after two rounds of action, averaging 11.5 metres over the gainline per carry.

Previous results:

This will be the first Test between these countries.

Prediction: Argentina will build on their previous performance against Georgia and notch their second win against a tired Tongan side. Although the winning margin won't be as big as the one against Georgia, Argentina will still win comfortably by 22 points!

The teams:

Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolas Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Horacio Agulla.

Tonga: 15 Vungakoto Lilo, 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Siale Piutau, 12 Sione Piukala, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Kurt Morath, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Viliami Ma'afu, 7 Nili Latu (c), 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Joseph Tuineau, 4 Tukulua Lokotui, 3 Halani 'Aulika, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Sona Taumalolo, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Sitiveni Mafi, 20 Opeti Fonua, 21 Samisoni Fisilau, 22 Latiume Fosita, 23 David Halaifonua. Date:<brSunday, October 4</br

<brVenue: Leicester City Stadium
Kick-off: 14:30 local (13:30 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)</br

<br By David Skippers</br

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