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Preview: Argentina v Scotland

23rd September 2011 14:50

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Scotland: Yet to give fans a performance worth cheering about

Sunday's crunch World Cup clash between Argentina and Scotland is a must-win for both sides if they hope to advance out of Pool B and into the quarter-finals.

Argentina lost their tournament opener against England, before powering past the Romanians to get their campaign back on track.

However, of the two sides, it's Scotland who are sitting pretty between them in the group with nine points from their two wins (the Pumas are on five points), with a final Pool game against England to come after this weekend's Argentine hurdle.

A loss for Argentina would almost certainly end their World Cup, while in case of defeat, Scotland would always have a chance to make amends against England in Auckland on Saturday week.

Whilst the Scots have notched up two wins from two games played - beating Romania (34-24) and Georgia (15-6) - they haven't fired on all cylinders and would have to be at the top of their playing mettle to overcome a dangerous Pumas outfit.

It was the South Americans who ended Scotland's World Cup campaign at the quarter-final stage four years ago in France - the only previous time the two have met in the competition.

A well-balanced side with a strong pack and an exciting backline, the Pumas enter this match in Wellington as favourites but have lost two of their previous three games played against Scotland over the last two years.

It was in Argentina that Scotland achieved their first southern hemisphere series win, and that will give Andy Robinson and his men renewed hope that they can turn the tables and maintain their record of always reaching the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

However, they would now have to up the ante after a relatively easy introduction to pool play and retaining possession against Argentina would be imperative in order to obtain parity at the set-piece and in territory.

Scotland will know better than anyone that a win is non-negotiable for their chances of survival as Argentina's final Pool game is against the lowly Georgians.

If the Scots lose to the Pumas this weekend and again to England on October 1, Scotland could be going home before the knock-out stage of the World Cup for the first time in their history.

However, the 10-day turnaround Scotland are currently enjoying since the win over Georgia could prove to be helpful if they can hit top form in their bid to set up a decider against England for the right to top Pool B.

"We'll take it one game at a time. It's pointless worrying about permutations or what will happen. We're in control of how our pool goes in regard to us winning games," said Scotland hooker Ross Ford.

"We've got to turn up on the pitch in the right mindset to front up again."

It is a match which promises to be close, competitive, and in all probability compelling.

Ones to watch:

For Argentina: The return of skipper Felipe Contepomi is a major boost for the Pumas. He's a class act and Argentina's dangerman. Scotland will have to keep him quiet as best they can otherwise he will run the show at the Cake Tin.

For Scotland: Scotland fly-half Ruaridh Jackson will be facing the Pumas for the first time and certainly has a lot to live up to after being handed the key fly-half position ahead of Dan Parks.

Head to head: It is sure to be a physical confrontation between two well acquainted teams and supremacy up front will once again be key to victory. Whoever's come out on top up front between these two sides has gone on to win, and there's no doubt it will be the same on Sunday night.

Previous results:

2010: Scotland won 13-9 in Mar del Plata
2010: Scotland won 24-16 in Tucuman
2009: Argentina won 9-6 at Murrayfield
2008: Scotland won 24-16 in Buenos Aires
2008: Argentina won 21-15 in Rosario
2007: Argentina won 19-13 in Paris (RWC)
2005: Argentina won 23-19 at Murrayfield
2001: Argentina won 25-16 at Murrayfield
1999: Argentina won 31-22 at Murrayfield
1994: Argentina won 19-17 at Ferrocaril Oeste
1994: Argentina won 16-15 at Ferrocaril Oeste
1990: Scotland won 49-3 at Murrayfield

Prediction: A win for Scotland will be a sixth in a row for Andy Robinson's men - a feat not achieved since the 1989-90 Grand Slam-winning season. However, the Pumas have won four of their last five Rugby World Cup encounters with Six Nations opposition. It's going to be close... a draw? Editor says no. Argentina by five!

The teams:

Argentina: 15 Martín Rodríguez, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Felipe Contepomi (c), 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Santiago Fernández, 9 Nicolás Vergallo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Mario Ledesma Arocena, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: 16 Agustín Creevy, 17 Martín Scelzo, 18 Mariano Galarza, 19 Genaro Fessia, 20 Alfredo Lalanne, 21 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 22 Juan Jose Imhoff.

Scotland: 15 Chris Paterson, 14 Max Evans, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Rory Lawson (c), 8 Kelly Brown, 7 John Barclay, 6 Al Strokosch, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Nathan Hines, 19 Richie Vernon, 20 Mike Blair, 21 Dan Parks, 22 Simon Danielli.

Date: Sunday, September 25
Kick-off: 20:30 (08:30 GMT)
Venue: Wellington Regional Stadium
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

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