The Pumas as well as the South Africans in the Barbarians side will be looking to end their season on a high when the teams clash at Twickenham on Saturday, writes JON CARDINELLI.
Gone are the days where a match involving the Barbarians was an out-and-out exhibition. Indeed, Argentina as well as a few of the individuals in the Barbarians set-up will be looking to make a point at Twickenham on Saturday.
The Springboks thumped Argentina 34-21 in Durban in the opening match of the Rugby Championship. The Pumas had their revenge the following week, though, scoring a record 32-19 win over the Boks in Mendoza.
Coach Mario Ledesma may fancy his chances of another win against opposite number Rassie Erasmus. The Bok coach – who has included 13 South Africans in the Barbarians 23 – will be looking to end the international season on a high.
The Boks finished their tour to the northern hemisphere with a two-from-four record. Overall, they scored seven wins in 14 Tests this season.
Erasmus will be desperate for a victory this Saturday. He will, however, have to balance the drive to win with a mandate to stay true to the Barbarians’ attacking ethos.
Much will – and should – be made about the selection of several South African players who have been used extensively by franchise and country in 2018. Handré Pollard, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Siya Kolisi deserve a break, and one would hope that they don’t sustain any serious injuries in this match. The 2019 World Cup is just around the corner and the Boks can ill-afford to lose any of these players.
On the other hand, Erasmus appears to be using this fixture to bring fringe Bok players up to speed. Trevor Nyakane has swung between loosehead and tighthead prop this season, and will have the chance to pack down at No 3 on Saturday. Schalk Brits has played once – from the bench – since making his return to Test rugby, and will benefit from an extended run. Lood de Jager is another who needs game time after returning from a serious injury.
Argentina have blown hot and cold in 2018. The Jaguares certainly made a point when they hammered all four South African franchises in Argentina during the Super Rugby competition. The Pumas beat the Boks and the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship, but then lost all of their matches on the tour to the northern hemisphere.
Like the South Africans in the Barbarians side, the Argentinians may be tiring after a long Super Rugby and international season. They may battle to put this Barbarians side away.
In theory, the Pumas should be favourites. They boast an established combination, unlike the Barbarians, and will have no other motivation but to win. If the opportunity to shoot for goal presents itself, they will take it.
It will be interesting to see how the Pumas fare against the Barbarians at the set pieces. Wyatt Crockett is one of the best scrummagers in the business, and the Barbarians will lose nothing when Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx and Anton Peikrishvili come off the bench in the second half. The presence of De Jager and Du Toit will cause the Pumas problems at the lineout.
If the Pumas forwards set a decent platform, the backs will put the Barbarians defence under pressure. If they fail to do so, the Barbarians may hand Argentina a defeat.
Barbarians – 15 Jack Debreczeni (Chiefs), 14 Tommaso Benvenuti (Benetton & Italy), 13 Tom English (Rebels & Australia), 12 Damian de Allende (Stormers & South Africa), 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi (Lions & South Africa), 10 Handré Pollard (Bulls & South Africa), 9 Leon Fukofuka (Auckland & Tonga), 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamon (Jaguares & Argentina), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers & South Africa), 6 Siya Kolisi (Stormers & South Africa), 5 Lood de Jager (Bulls & South Africa), 4 Luke Jones (Bordeaux Begles & Australia), 3 Trevor Nyakane (Bulls & South Africa), 2 Schalk Brits (Stormers & South Africa), 1 Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders & New Zealand, captain).
Subs: 16 Steven Kitshoff (Stormers & South Africa), 17 Malcolm Marx (Lions & South Africa), 18 Anton Peikrishvili (Cardiff Blues & Georgia), 19 Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Stormers & South Africa), 20 Jordan Taufua (Crusaders), 21 Frank Lomani (Rebels & Fiji), 22 Jesse Kriel (Bulls & South Africa), 23 Elton Jantjies (Lions & South Africa)
Argentina – 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Sebastian Cancelliere, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Tomas Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera (c), 5 Tomas Lavanini, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Juan Pablo Zeiss.
Subs: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Tomas Lavanini, 20 Santiago Grondova, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 23 Santiago Carreras.
— Barbarian FC (@Barbarian_FC) November 29, 2018
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images