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Preview: Wales v Argentina

14th November 2013 23:36

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Wales v Argentina Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe 2L captain of Argentina

Last year: Pumas triumph

If revenge is in the air at Twickenham then the same can be said for Cardiff when the Welsh take on Argentina.

One year ago it was the Pumas' day of joy as they won 26-12 thanks to tries from Juan Imhoff and Gonzalo Camacho not being answered by Wales.

Then led by Rob Howley, the hosts lived off Leigh Halfpenny's boot and were, like this year, without Dan Lydiate, Jonathan Davies and Adam Jones.

Argentina meanwhile had a stronger back-three which included the aforementioned duo and Juan Martin Hernandez whereas this year it's Joaquín Tuculet, Horacio Agulla and Santiago Cordero. Compounding that fact is that prop Juan Figallo and flank Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe are out.

The visiting forward pack still remains relatively solid, however, as Maximiliano Bustos and Marcos Ayerza look to get stuck into two players at the opposite end of the career spectrum. They are 100 cap Gethin Jenkins and Scarlets tighthead Rhodri Jones, who earns his third international appearance in red. Fellow youngster Samson Lee will also enjoy some game-time when he comes on and is definitely one with a promising future who deserves an opportunity.

Despite going down to South Africa, Wales were impressive last weekend and had centre Davies not gone off, who knows how many more times he would have sliced through the Springbok midfield. Unfortunately for the soon-to-be Clermont man his injury was serious so there's a change that sees Cardiff Blues youngster Cory Allen come in. Those who have watched the RaboDirect PRO12 and Heineken Cup will know he has bags of potential.

In truth it is an exciting, if untried, backline that includes Dan Biggar at ten alongside the unattached Mike Phillips, with James Hook waiting should Warren Gatland want a change.

"It was always our intention to give Dan and Rhys one game each at the start of the series and it's Dan chance this week," said the coach ahead of their penultimate game of 2013.

"Last weekend (a tough international against the Springboks) will stand us in good stead in terms of physicality and intensity as Saturday will be a huge battle against Argentina."

That it will as the Pumas showed their worth in the second 40 at Twickenham, with criticism of England wrongly outweighing Argentina's strengths as the likes of Nicolás Sanchez led the revival. Wales may recall that in 2012 the Pumas shone with two tries on the hour mark.

But with attacking threats of their own that includes a mouth-watering back-row trio, the Welsh should have too much firepower in the tank. Expect a home win here with a backline from numbers 11 to 14 - which boasts an average age of just 21 and a half - to shine.

Ones to watch:

For Wales: Eyes will of course be on the likes of tighthead prop Rhodri Jones and outside centre Cory Allen but it is George North who we select here after Rob Howley publicly challenged the wing to recapture his Lions form. The last time we saw North fired up he was carrying Israel Folau like a bag of cement and sprinting over for an epic try against the Wallabies so wing Santiago Cordero should expect a tough afternoon on Saturday.

For Argentina: The more I see of Nicolás Sanchez the more I'm impressed. The fly-half has consistently produced the goods for Argentina, despite regularly being under pressure with a lack of front foot ball. He is strong in defence and his two drop-goals last year in Cardiff showed he has both skills and the necessary cool head for international rugby. Sanchez's personal duel with Dan Biggar should be an interesting one at the Millennium Stadium.

Head-to-head: Both these Junior World Championship graduates find themselves out of position from their usual openside berths this week as Sam Warburton meets Pablo Matera on the blindside flank. Warburton makes may for Justin Tipuric because of Dan Lydiate's absence while Matera has swapped places with Julio Farias Cabello due to influential captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe being out. Let battle commence.

Recent results:

2012: Argentina won 26-12 in Cardiff
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: No repeat of 2012. Wales to win this by 8 points!

The teams:

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sam Warburton (c), 5 Alun-Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Rhodri Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Ryan Jones, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 James Hook, 23 Ashley Beck.

Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernández, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Nicolás Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamón (c), 7 Julio Farias Cabello, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Maximiliano Bustos, 2 Eusebio Guiñazú, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Iglesias Valdez, 17 Nahuel Lobo, 18 Matías Díaz, 19 Tomás Lavanini, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Gabriel Ascárate, 23 Lucas González Amorosino.

Date: Saturday, November 16
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Television match official: Simon McDowell (Ireland)
Assessor: Lyndon Bray (SANZAR)

By Adam Kyriacou
@PlanetRugbyAK

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