The game management of Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley will be key when the Wallabies host Argentina in Perth on Saturday, writes JON CARDINELLI.
The Wallabies beat the Springboks 23-17 in Brisbane last week. While there were aspects of the performance that were poor, they can take heart from the fact that they dealt with the physicality of the Boks. It bodes well for a clash with the Pumas, a side that relishes a physical scrap.
Argentina pushed the All Blacks during the early stages of the recent fixture in Hamilton, particularly at the collisions and breakdowns. They could not, however, maintain their physical effort for 80 minutes, and were torn apart by the All Blacks in the second half.
The Wallabies would do well to remember what transpired when they met the Pumas at the 2015 World Cup. Argentina were full of running in that semi-final match played at Twickenham. Meanwhile, the Wallabies backed their kicking game and defence to pin the Pumas in their own territory. The Wallabies went on to win 29-15.
A year later, and the Wallabies are a different side. Cooper is at flyhalf, and Foley at No 12. It's not the strongest defensive combination in the world. Indeed, the Wallabies coaches have sought to offset Cooper's defensive weakness by hiding him on the wing.
Will Argentina be able to expose Cooper or Foley this Saturday? They will need to win the collisions, and their kicking execution and chase will have to be on point.
Of course, the Wallabies will look to those same two players to boot them into good field positions. They will want to play the bulk of the game deep in Pumas territory.
The hosts are also fortunate to possess the most accurate goal-kicker in this year's Rugby Championship. Foley has kicked eight goals from nine attempts for a record of 89%. A couple of goal-kicks could be all that separates the two sides at full time on Saturday.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Wallabies 19, Argentina 5, Draw 1
In Perth: Wallabies 1, Argentina 0
STATS AND FACTS
– The Wallabies have won 11 of their last 12 games against the Pumas.
– The Wallabies have won their last 11 games against Argentina on home soil. The only time the Pumas have won in Australia was in July 1983.
– Australia have boasted the best scrum success rate so far (95%), however their lineout success sits at a competition-low 75%, with the Wallabies losing 3.3 lineouts per game on average.
– Argentina are on the hunt for a second win in a single Rugby Championship campaign for the first time since they joined the competition in 2012.
– Argentina’s Facundo Isa has made 41 carries in three games so far this campaign, the most of any player and five more than the next busiest player, Israel Folau (36).
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|Wallabies||Bernard Foley (27)||Adam Coleman, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps (1)||Israel Folau (159)||Michael Hooper (32)|
|Argentina||Nicolás Sánchez (38)||Santiago Cordero (2)||Facundo Isa (172)||Matías Alemanno (28)|
Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Subs (one to be omitted): 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Sean McMahon, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Tevita Kuridrani, 24 Henry Speight.
Argentina – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Santiago González Iglesias, 11 Lucas González Amorosino, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Javier Ortega Desio, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Subs: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Martín Landajo, 22 Gabriel Ascarate, 23 Matías Orlando.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Nick Briant (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images