Pumas to target Wallabies scrum

The Australian forwards will again be under pressure to perform when they take on Argentina in Mendoza on Saturday, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.

The Pumas won the scrum battle on the Gold Coast earlier this month and may have snatched a 32-32 draw had referee Glen Jackson not harshly penalised scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli for putting the ball into a last-minute scrum before he had called 'yes'. The Pumas had smashed the Wallabies scrum minutes earlier and would have backed themselves to do so again 5m out from the tryline.

The Australians were also lucky not to be penalised more in that match, as they constantly scrummed with their shoulders below their hips, which is against the law. And whenever they were put under pressure by the Pumas they just collapsed the scrum and let the referee make a call. Argentina would be wise to point that out to referee Nigel Owens before Saturday's match.

It's no surprise that Australia have the lowest scrum success rate in this year's tournament (76%), while Argentina have won nine penalties or free kicks from opposition scrums, more than twice as many as any other team.

Both sides have been forced to make changes to their packs for their final outing of the Rugby Championship.  

Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe flew back to France to be with his wife and newborn child, and Juan Manuel Leguizamón was ruled out with a calf strain. Benjamín Macome will therefore start at No 7 for the Pumas, with Rodrigo Báez at 6. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro comes in at tighthead prop and Tomás Lavanini returns to the second row after serving a one-match ban. 

Rob Simmons (concussion) has been replaced in the Wallabies second row by James Horwill, while Scott Higginbotham comes in for Ben McCalman (shoulder) at No 8.

Coach Ewen McKenzie has gone for a forward-heavy 6-2 split on the bench to ensure the Wallabies have the firepower among the forwards to get through the backend of the game.

Argentina have lost their last nine Tests against Australia, although four of the five Rugby Championship clashes between the sides have seen the Pumas pick up a losing bonus point.

The Pumas have played two Tests at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, losing 22-17 to the Boks last year and claiming a 16-16 draw against the same opponents in 2012.

Overall: Wallabies 17, Pumas 4, Draw 1
In Argentina: Wallabies 5, Pumas 3, Draw 1

76 – The Wallabies' scrum success rate in this year's tournament, the lowest of the four teams
9 – The number of penalties or free kicks the Pumas have won from opposition scrums, more than twice as many as any other team
16 – The number of scrums in the match between the Wallabies and Pumas on the Gold Coast earlier this month
Source: Opta, Vodacom Stats App 

Argentina – 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Juan Imhoff, 13 Horacio Agulla, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Lucas González Amorosino, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Benjamín Macome, 6 Rodrigo Báez, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Mariano Galarza, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Subs: 16 Matías Cortese, 17 Bruno Postiglioni, 18 Ramiro Herrera, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Marcelo Bosch, 23 Jerónimo De la Fuente.

Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Saia Fainga'a, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Matt Hodgson, 22 Nic White, 23 Rob Horne.

Preview: Springboks vs All Blacks

Photo: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images

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