Planet Rugby

Preview: Australia v Argentina

13th September 2013 09:15

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Wallabies singing anthem

Game 4 and 5: How will they go for head coach Ewen McKenzie?

The honeymoon period would well and truly be over for Australia head coach Ewen McKenzie should the Wallabies lose to Argentina in Perth on Saturday.

Three defeats from three has not been what the doctor ordered since the Australian Rugby Union parted company with Robbie Deans. And with physically testing games against the Pumas and South Africa to come, the worst case scenario doesn't look beyond the realms of possibility.

Credit to Deans for not stirring the pot.

So let us look at the problem areas...where does one begin? The Wallabies were outmuscled by the Springboks and frighteningly so last Saturday, with semblances of the third Lions Test when they received many punches to the midriff before the knockout blows followed in the second-half.

Sekope Kepu was dominated by Tendai Mtawarira but the finger of blame cannot be pointed at just one man. The sheer size of the Springbok pack such as Bismarck du Plessis, Flip van der Merwe, Willem Alberts and Duane Vermeulen against the lighter Wallabies made for a men against boys international scenario.

Then there was the aftermath and a point that Michael Lynagh stressed on television that he was upset with James O'Connor laughing with South African opponents immediately after the final whistle. His words were that a defeat like that should hurt and it didn't look like it did. Lynagh had a point. Problems off the field have been an unwanted sideshow for Deans and now McKenzie and a change such as Will Genia being axed might ruffle the feathers.

It would be a brave person to back Australia to win in South Africa though so this week's match at Patersons Stadium has so much riding on it for the still pointless Wallabies.

Argentina meanwhile will have taken plenty of confidence from the game in Hamilton and could not have asked for a better time to attempt their first win against Australia since 1997. They gave New Zealand a real contest and went toe-to-toe with them psychically - in fact Juan Figallo was a monster while the locks proved they can cope without Patricio Albacete.

Nicolas Sanchez showed his worth at fly-half and the return of Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe lifted the side, with line-outs arguably their only highlighted point of concern. Santiago Phelan seems to have addressed that as Eusebio Guiñaz finds himself on the bench.

Subsequently, 4/1 underdogs is too high in our opinion for the Pumas as we feel that Lobbe and company could pounce on these wounded Wallabies this weekend. Are we alone?

Ones to watch:

For Australia: There are shoes to fill and there are shoes to fill. Nic White must step into Will Genia's. They are different players and McKenzie will surely have told White to play his Brumbies way, which has proved successful in 2013 due to his decision making and solid touch-finders. Forming a partnership with Quade Cooper at such short notice could be an issue though, especially if like last week their pack is on the back foot.

For Argentina: The injury to Gonzalo Camacho was of course a blow but calling in someone of Juan Imhoff's class has definitely cushioned matters. Imhoff is an outstanding wing as we saw in the Top 14, Heineken Cup and also as we've seen on the international stage. Should Sanchez, Felipe Contepomi and Gonzalo Tiesi create, then Imhoff will finish nine times out of ten. One eye will also be kept on hooker Creevy, who is a hefty unit.

Head-to-head: The Wallabies' new captain Ben Mowen goes up against Juan Manuel Leguizamón. The leadership role could be seen as a coming of age for Brumbies back-row Mowen after he was left out of the international mix for so long. Of course he would have preferred getting the captaincy in different circumstances, but with James Horwill and Will Genia not starting he must stand up and lead. His calls will be under close scrutiny. Leguizamón meanwhile comes off a solid try-scoring performance against New Zealand at Waikato Stadium and loves an open game. It should be a good contest to watch.

Previous results:

2012: Australia won 25-19 in Rosario
2012: Australia won 23-19 on Gold Coast
2003: Australia won 24-8 in Sydney
2002: Australia won 17-6 in Buenos Aires
2000: Australia won 32-25 in Canberra
2000: Australia won 53-6 in Brisbane

Prediction: Australia to respond or fall deeper into the well? We think the latter. Pumas by 2!

The teams:

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 James O'Connor, 13 Adam-Ashley Cooper, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Tevita Kuridrani.

Argentina: 15 Juan Martin Hernandez, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Felipe Contepomi, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Thomas Cubelli, 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 7 Pablo Matera, 6 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 5 Julio Farias Cabello, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Eusebio Guiñaz, 17 Nahuel Lobo, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Benjamín Macome, 21 Martín Landajo, 22 Santiago Fernández, 23 Lucas González Amorosino.

Date: Saturday, September 14
Venue: Patersons Stadium, Perth
Kick-off: 20:05 (11:05 BST, 10:05 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Television match official: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
Assessor: Tappe Henning

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