Argentina will be looking for their first win of this year’s Rugby Championship against Australia in the final round of action at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza on Saturday.
The last time the Argentines finished a Rugby Championship campaign without a victory was in 2013. However, history and the odds are stacked against the home side.
Australia have won 14 of the previous 15 encounters between the sides and each of the last five. Indeed, the Wallabies have come away with a win on four of their last five visits to Argentina to face los Pumas, including a 34-9 victory on their last such expedition.
The Wallabies have offered Australian rugby fans something to smile about after a horrible 2017 for rugby in the country in general. The 35-29 defeat to the All Blacks and the two stalemates with the Springboks (23-23 and 27-27) will have saved the face of Aussie rugby for now.
They have shown a new-found resilience which has made them difficult to beat, having now gone three games without a loss (W1, D2). The last time they went longer undefeated was in 2015 with a run of seven straight victories that included the Rugby World Cup.
Kurtley Beale is playing arguably the best rugby of his international career and so too is Israel Folau. Folau heads into the match in sight of the world record for most Test tries in a calendar year, having broken Lote Tuqiri’s Australian record when he grabbed his 11th of 2017 in the draw with the Springboks last weekend.
Argentina have lacked discipline, imagination and of course a full 80-minute performance. They either start poorly and improve as was seen in the last fixture against the All Blacks or start well and fade as was evident in the first fixture against the world champions where they actually held a 16-15 half-time lead.
But no one is counting los Pumas out; it would be foolhardy to do so. After all, they will thrive with the backing of their rambunctious crowd who will most definitely create a cauldron-like atmosphere.
However, they need to watch their discipline in the heated atmosphere at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas against a Wallabies side who have kept it squeaky clean. Argentina are the only team to have conceded an average of more than one card per game this tournament (5 yellows, 1 red), while Australia are the only team yet to have a player sent from the field.
2017: Australia won 45-20 in Canberra
2016: Australia won 21-33 in London
2016: Australia won 36-20 in Perth
2015: Australia won 29-15 in London (RWC semi-final)
2015: Australia won 34-09 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 24-08 in Sydney
Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Matias Moroni, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Tomas Lezana, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Marcos Kremer, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustin Creevy (c), 1 Lucas Noguera Paz
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Banjamin Macome, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Santiago Cordero
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Lukhan Tui, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Samu Kerevi, 23 Henry Speight
Date: Saturday, October 7
Venue: Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza
Kick-off: 19:40 local (22:40 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)