Aussies to edge Pumas

The Wallabies need to display improved execution on attack if they are to overcome Argentina in London on Saturday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

Last Saturday, the Aussies enjoyed 55% of possession and 60% of territory against the Boks, while they made 509m to 330, completed 113 carries to 87 and beat 21 defenders to nine.

Yet, despite this attacking dominance, the Wallabies were only able to cross for the solitary try, and very rarely looked likely to breach a Bok defence that fronted up physically.

It’s been clear that the Wallabies are intent on sticking to an ambitious ball-in-hand approach under the guidance of attack-minded Michael Cheika, but they have battled with their execution all season.

Undoubtedly it’s an aspect of their game that they’ll be desperate to rectify in their final Rugby Championship encounter, which could quite possibly present them with an opportunity to finish second on the log.

As it stands, the Boks are just one log point ahead of the Wallabies, but it’s hard to see them coming away with a win over the All Blacks this weekend.

The Aussies may well keep an eye on this encounter before their clash kicks off a little later on Saturday, and it’s quite probable that they will be playing for a win that could see them leapfrog the Boks, while also building important momentum ahead of the third Bledisloe Cup clash.

This week the Wallabies have made just a couple of changes to their starting lineup, with Lopeti Timani replacing injured Sean McMahon at No 8, while Rory Arnold replaces Rob Simmons at lock.

And although the Pumas have impressed at times this season, they’ve struggled to string a consistent 80-minute performance together, while often also being guilty of playing too much rugby with ball in hand.

At the end of the season, Argentina have also been hit by injuries, with star No 8 Facundo Isa most notably ruled out in one of four changes that have been made to their starting lineup.

It's set to be an entertaining encounter to conclude the Rugby Championship action, but if the Wallabies can add a clinical edge to their approach to successfully exploit a suspect Pumas defence with just an 80.1% tackle success rate, they should emerge victorious on Saturday.

Overall: Wallabies 20, Argentina 5, Draw 1 
In London: Wallabies 1, Argentina 0

– Australia have won 12 of their last 13 games against Argentina, including the last three meetings, all by a margin of at least two converted tries.
– The Pumas have scored 108 points so far this year, making it their highest-scoring Rugby Championship campaign ever; a win in this match would be the first time they have ever won two games in a single edition of the tournament.
– Since the start of the 2012 season Australia have lost nine of their 12 away games in this competition, their only wins (three) on the road in this time coming in Argentina; however, this game will be the first to be hosted by a non-participating nation (England, Twickenham).
– This will be the ninth time Argentina have played at Twickenham (L6, D1, W1), the last time they played there was against Australia in the semi-final of the 2015 World Cup.
– This will be Australia’s first visit to Twickenham since the 2015 RWC final, when they lost to New Zealand; they had won all four of their earlier matches at the venue in the tournament, though.
– Five players have made 50+ carries in this tournament, four of which play for these two teams (Facundo Isa 85, Pablo Matera 57, Agustín Creevy 50, Israel Folau 50).
– Australia (80%) are the only team to have a lineout success rate below 90% in this tournament, on average they have lost 2.6 throws per game.
– Argentina have the best goal-kicking rate in the competition this year (89%), with Nicolás Sanchéz slotting 20 of his 23 efforts and Juan Martín Hernández and Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias both slotting the two efforts each they have had.
– Michael Hooper (61) has made 10 more tackles than any other player in the competition after five weeks; conversely, the three players to miss the most tackles are all Australian too (Bernard Foley 14, Dane Haylett-Petty 13, Dean Mumm 11).
– Israel Folau has scored more tries against Argentina (4 in 7 games) than against any other nation; however, he has now gone 11 games in this competition without crossing the tryline.
Source: Opta

Team Top point-scorer Top try-scorer Most metres gained Most tackles
Argentina Nicolás Sanchéz (53) Santiago Cordero (3) Facundo Isa (361) Matías Alemanno (37)
Wallabies Bernard Foley (40) Will Genia (2) Dane Haylett-Petty (284) Michael Hooper (61)

Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: TBC

Argentina – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Santiago González Iglesias, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Lucas Noguera.
Subs: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Jerónimo De la Fuente/Gabriel Ascarate, 23 Ramiro Moyano/Lucas Gonzalez Amorosin.

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: JP Doyle (England), Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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Craig Lewis