Preview: Australia vs Argentina
Australia will be keen to continue where they left off against South Africa last week when they host Argentina in Perth on Saturday.
The Wallabies’ victory over the Springboks in Brisbane ended a six-match losing streak, which stretched back to their defeat to the All Blacks in last year’s Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham.
Although they have finally managed to get that elusive win under their belt the Wallabies will be the first to admit that they weren’t at their best against the Boks and this weekend’s clash will be used as another stepping stone in their quest to reach the heights they reached in 2015 when they won the Rugby Championship and finished as runners up at the World Cup in England.
Australia showed plenty of character to fight back from a 14-3 deficit against South Africa but they can ill afford a similar start against los Pumas who have shown in the last two years that they have the ability to
Although they have ended their winless run, Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika feels they haven’t turned the corner yet and said earlier in the week that there’s plenty of room for improvement.
Cheika’s decision to play field both Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley in his starting line-up is slowly bearing fruit with the latter’s allround performance in the unfamiliar inside centre position one of the highlights in Brisbane.
Much will be expected of Australia’s forwards who gave a good account of themselves against the Boks. Their poor forward play was one of the main contributing factors during their winless run but there were encouraging signs in Brisbane which they will look to build on.
Argentina, meanwhile, head in to this clash on the back of a 57-22 drubbing against New Zealand but although they lost by a 35-point margin los Pumas gave the world champions a big scare.
Daniel Hourcade’s troops have come on in leaps and bounds and will genuinely fancy their chances of winning this Test. If they achieve that feat, it will be only Argentina’s second ever win against the Wallabies on Australian soil with their last victory recorded way back in 1983 when they claimed an 18-3 win in Brisbane.
That result and their previous visit to Perth – when they suffered a narrow 14-13 loss in 2013 – should be enough motivation for them to get the better of their hosts.
Veteran back-row Juan Manuel Leguizamon, who missed last weekend’s clash with the All Blacks, believes the battle at the breakdown will be crucial, against the Wallabies who boast two of the game’s best breakdown exponents in Michael Hooper and David Pocock.
“We need to keep the intensity during the whole game because for us is something that we need to improve on and work on,” said Leguizamon.
“Some games we play, most of the time we keep the intensity but a lot of games we don’t do it and we need to improve in that.
“The breakdown will be very important for us.
“The Wallabies are good there and they have a couple of players that are very good so we need to account for that.”
Team news: Australia head coach Michael Cheika has made one change to his starting XV as Rob Simmons comes in at lock. Simmons will play alongside Adam Coleman, returning to the Wallabies second-row for the first time since the Bledisloe Cup clash in Sydney. The move means that the Wallabies will field their sixth locking combination of the season in seven Tests, with last weekend’s Coleman and Kane Douglas pairing the only one to last beyond one match.
Argentina boss Daniel Hourcade has made a handful of changes to his run-on side for this Test. Scrum-half Tomás Cubelli comes in for Martin Landajo at the base as they look to build on a promising performance last week against New Zealand. Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Santiago González Iglesias and Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino start in Javier Ortega Desio, Juan Martín Hernández and Matías Orlando’s positions this Saturday, with Desio moving to lock in place of Guido Petti while Matías Moroni shifts from wing to centre..
2015: Australia won 29-15 in London (RWC semi-final)
2015: Australia won 34-9 in Mendoza
2014: Argentina won 21-17 in Mendoza
2014: Australia won 32-25 in Gold Coast
2013: Australia won 54-17 in Rosario
2013: Australia won 14-13 in Perth
2012: Australia won 25-19 in Rosario
2012: Australia won 23-19 in Gold Coast
2003: Australia won 24-8 in Sydney
2002: Australia won 17-6 in Buenos Aires
2000: Australia won 32-25 in Canberra
2000: Australia won 53-6 in Brisbane
1997: Argentina won 18-16 in Buenos Aires
Australia: 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
Replacements (one to be omitted): Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper, Tom Robertson, Rory Arnold, Lopeti Timani, Sean McMahon, Nick Phipps, Tevita Kuridrani, 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 Leguizamon, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Javier Ortega Desio, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Martín Landajo, 22 Gabriel Ascarate, 23 Matías Orlando
Date: Saturday, September 17
Venue: nib Stadium, Perth
Kick-off: 20:05 local (10:05 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Nick Briant (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)