Planet Rugby

Preview: Wales v Argentina

09th November 2012 07:46

Share:

Jamie Roberts Wales

International distraction: Roberts

Fresh from the Rugby Championship, Argentina are now officially one of the game's top nations as they prepare to meet Wales on Saturday.

Memories of Los Pumas in Cardiff include their stunning draw with the British & Irish Lions in 2005, a result that grabbed the world's attention. They now return to Millennium Stadium once more to face the Six Nations champions.

Both sides have recently been defeated by Australia - Argentina in narrow encounters as they hunted for their first win in the Rugby Championship, whilst Wales were disappointing against a resurgent Wallaby side during their June tour.

Whilst regional success is unbalanced with the Ospreys and Scarlets at the top and the Blues and Dragons struggling down the bottom, the national side remain a beacon of hope for Welsh rugby and many of the stars who have departed for the euro - Mike Phillips, Gethin Jenkins and James Hook - will all be involved against Argentina.

One new face in the Wales squad is at tighthead prop in Aaron Jarvis. While Jenkins is winning his 91st cap on the loosehead side, Jarvis will have to cope with Marcos Ayerza on his first appearance for his country - a daunting task for the Osprey.

Elsewhere, Josh Turnbull is tasked with replacing the injured Dan Lydiate, no mean feat considering what Lydiate achieved during last season. A good appearance from Turnbull may secure the shirt long-term, although the concept of somehow playing both Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric at the same time remains appealing.

Rhys Priestland is under pressure to perform after a disappointing tour of Australia, with Dan Biggar and Hook breathing down his neck. Starting Tavis Knoyle is a sign of faith from Rob Howley and a message to Mike Phillips - how the veteran reacts will say plenty about his commitment to his country.

What is integral to any Welsh success however is getting the ball into the hands of George North and Alex Cuthbert. Both wingers are in good form at domestic level and their power will prove troublesome for any defence.

As for the Pumas, now that Rodrigo Roncero has finally hung up his boots the great generation that led Argentina to a third place finish at the 2007 Rugby World Cup is starting to fade away. Fortunately, as his replacement they have Marcos Ayerza, the Leicester prop whose reputation proceeds him.

Speaking of the class of 2007, Felipe Contepomi has returned to the squad after missing the Rugby Championship. His partnership with Gonzalo Tiesi is a familiar one due to their time together both in France and with the Pumas. Injury saw Tiesi limp out of the Rugby World Cup and miss the Rugby Championship, but his good form for San Isidro has led to him being recalled.

Argentina's best result in the Rugby Championship may have only been a draw, but they were far from the whipping boys that many people suspected they would prove to be in their first season. Australia were driven close on both occasions and South Africa made to sweat in Mendoza, having to share the points.

That momentum from going up against the world's best will make them stronger and Wales should be wary.

If their pack can cause problems for Jarvis at the scrum and Contepomi combines with fly-half Nicolas Sanchez to produce an effective kicking game, then their chances will increase.

Ones to watch:

For Wales: All eyes are on Josh Turnbull as he comes in at blindside to replace Dan Lydiate for his fifth cap. Lydiate's influence on Wales defence was key to Six Nations success last year and Turnbull must emulate his work ethic. Against Juan Mártin Fernández Lobbe and Juan Manuel Leguizamon he will be severely tested and how he fronts up will determine whether he continues to add to his caps this November. Elsewhere, Rhys Priestland has work to do but is showing glimpses of the form that saw him take last year's Rugby World Cup by storm.

For Argentina: There is arguably no Argentinian player more talented than El Mago - Juan Mártin Hernández. Full-back is not his best position but the width and playmaking abilities that he possess will keep Wales occupied all afternoon. If Argentina decide tactically that the boot is the best way forward through the trio of Hernández, Contepomi and Sanchez, then Leigh Halfpenny will be in for a long afternoon.

Head-to-head: A battle between scrum-halves, Tavis Knoyle and Martin Landajo should grab plenty of attention. Both young number nines, Knoyle impressed Rob Howley in Spala and has been in good form for the Scarlets. With the talented Mike Phillips relegated to the bench, if Knoyle performs well in the shirt, he will keep it. Landajo was effective for the Pumas in The Rugby Championship and finished off a sensational try against New Zealand, showing great speed. Elsewhere the battle between Aaron Jarvis and Marcos Ayerza could dictate the result.

Recent results:

2011: Wales won 28-13 in Cardiff
2009: Wales won 33-16 in Cardiff
2007: Wales won 27-20 in Cardiff
2006: Argentina won 45-27 in Buenos Aires

Prediction: Argentina have the pack to make this a narrow contest, but if Wales can secure possession and bring their back three into the game they should win this. Wales by 8.

The teams:

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (capt), 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Paul James, 19 Rob McCusker, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 James Hook, 23 Liam Williams.

Argentina: 15 Juan Martin Hernandez, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Felipe Contepomi, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Leonardo Senatore, 5 Julio Farias Cabello, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Bruno Postiglioni, 18 Juan Gomez, 19 Tomas Vallejos Cinalli, 20 Tomas Leonardi, 21 Nicolas Vergallo, 22 Horacio Agulla, 23 Joaquin Tuculet.

Date: Saturday, November 10
Kick-off: 14:30 (GMT)
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland), Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Television match official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)

By Ben Coles
@bencoles_

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 5
Northampton vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 6
Saracens vs Wasps14:00
Sale vs Bath14:00
Leicester vs Newcastle15:00
London Irish vs Harlequins16:30
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 6
New Zealand vs Argentina08:35
Australia vs South Africa11:05
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 5
Ospreys vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Munster vs Edinburgh19:35
Saturday , September 6
Scarlets vs Ulster14:40
Connacht vs Newport Gwent D'gons17:00
Glasgow vs Leinster17:15
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 5
Montpellier vs Castres20:45
Saturday , September 6
Brive vs Toulouse14:45
Clermont Auvergne vs Racing Metro Paris17:00
Lyon vs Oyonnax18:30
Grenoble vs La Rochelle18:30
Stade Francais vs Bayonne18:30
Toulon vs Bordeaux-Begles20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 5
Western Province vs Eastern Province Kings19:10
Saturday , September 6
Cheetahs vs Pumas15:00
Sharks vs Griquas17:05
Blue Bulls vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs TasmanAuckland vs Tasman Preview
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Top 14
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle 37 - 25 ToulouseLa Rochelle vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 33 - 6 Stade Francais
Racing Metro Paris 17 - 10 ToulonRacing Metro Paris vs Toulon Report
Castres 30 - 6 BayonneCastres vs Bayonne Report
Lyon 24 - 6 Brive
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 25 - 36 CheetahsGriquas vs Cheetahs Report
Blue Bulls 18 - 23 Western ProvinceBlue Bulls vs Western Province Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 41 LionsEastern Province Kings vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Counties Manukau 21 - 27 Hawkes BayCounties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay Report
Southland 22 - 33 Otago
North Harbour 16 - 22 WaikatoNorth Harbour vs Waikato Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne 20 - 21 MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 32 - 22 SharksPumas vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Wellington 21 - 27 ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Report
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bordeaux-Begles 30 - 21 Racing Metro Paris
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
Stade Francais 23 - 20 Lyon
More Top 14 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00