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Australia v Argentina – teams and prediction

RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP, ROUND TWO: Australia and Argentina are in desperate need of a victory when they meet on Saturday in Sydney.

Australia and Argentina suffered heavy defeats to South Africa and New Zealand respectively in the opening round of the Rugby Championship last weekend.

The defeats mean that this Saturday’s clash in Sydney is a must-win as both camps try to keep their Rugby Championship hopes alive and get their World Cup preparation back on track.

To make things more interesting, the match will see good friends Eddie Jones and Michael Cheika add a new chapter to their fierce coaching rivalry.

The two will lead the Wallabies and Los Pumas in Sydney, where both of them were raised and were also teammates at Randwick District Rugby Union Football Club.

They have coached against each other on two different occasions before with Jones coaching England and beating the Wallabies coached by Cheika on seven occasions.

However, their last meeting saw Cheika this time the coach of Los Pumas beating Jones’ England in a 30-29 win at Twickenham in November last year.

A few months later, Cheika will be out to mastermind another Argentinian upset over Eddie Jones – at the same venue where the Pumas stunned the mighty All Blacks in 2020.

“He’s a high-quality coach and you always want to go up against high-quality coaches just to test yourself,” Cheika said ahead of the clash.

“The biggest thing with Eddie is he’s a competitor and he wants to win, and I’m pretty much the same.”

The Los Pumas head into the match looking to win back-to-back games against Australia for the first time ever after a 48-17 thrashing – their biggest margin against the Wallabies – last year.

But that was on home soil. Their away record is poor, winning three of their last 16 against all opponents.

“I’m telling the lads just prepare day by day, be your best day by day and good things will happen for us,” said Cheika, who coached the Wallabies until 2019.

Jones has also made changes, two enforced by injury, following their humbling 12-43 loss to an understrength South Africa at Pretoria in his first game in charge.

Co-captain Michael Hooper is sidelined with a minor calf strain, opening the door for Fraser McReight at openside flank.

Jed Holloway will line up alongside him in place of the injured Tom Hooper at blindside.

Mark Nawaqanitawase is preferred to Suliasi Vunivalu on the wing, Samu Kerevi takes over from Reece Hodge at inside centre and lock Richie Arnold got the nod instead of Nick Frost.

Jones said he always intended to make changes for the second Test of his reign as he works to nail down the best XV for the World Cup.

“We have a rough plan of what we want to do. Our aim is to get to the World Cup in the best position and we have five games to do it,” said the coach, who inherited from the sacked Dave Rennie a team that lost nine of 13 internationals last season.

“We are obviously a new team and a new coaching staff so we are finding out where we are at. We didn’t have a number in place but we were always going to make some changes.

“It is not about guys solidifying positions, it’s about building depth so we can take a team to the World Cup and in every position we have three players with the quality we need to have,” he added.

Of those five matches, two will be against the All Blacks before they head to Europe for a clash with France in their final game before the World Cup.

Argentina can leapfrog Australia and climb to seventh in the world rankings with victory.

But the Wallabies can rise above Jones’ former England side for the first time since 2016 if they win.

For Australia: The absence of Michael Hooper could be a major factor for the Wallabies. Aside from missing his physicality, the side will also be without his leadership. However, it is a chance for Fraser McReight to stamp his authority on the No.7 jersey. The return of Samu Kerevi in the starting line-up is another significant change. The Super Rugby winner Kerevi will bring in much-needed experience in the midfield as he partners with Len Ikitau. The former Reds star is very dangerous on the attack and his powerful carries could be a big problem for Los Pumas’ defence. Not wanting to repeat last weekend’s disastrous showing against the Boks, flyhalf Quade Cooper will want to make a big impact which could spell trouble for Argentina. Cooper has the ability to change a game and with Kerevi as his inside centre, it could be a boost for the veteran. In the second row, Will Skelton will be called upon for his strong carries.

For Argentina: Wing Rodrigo Isgro, part of the Sevens side that won bronze at the Olympics in Tokyo, will make his debut. The Sevens star will be out to impress to book his spot for the World Cup later this year. The presence of Jeronimo de la Fuente in the backline is good news for any Los Pumas fan. De La Feunte joins fullback Emiliano Boffelli and wing Mateo Carreras in the back. Aside from the impressive backline, the pack is another major threat. Pablo Matera, who recently plied his trade for the Crusaders, will be physical at the breakdown. Tomas Lavanini, if he manages to keep his cool, is an incredible workhorse. The front row led by captain Julian Montoya and prop duo Francisco Gomez Kodela and Thomas Gallo have this tendency not to back down from the fight. Agustin Creevy, Nicolas Sanchez and Rodrigo Bruni could provide the second wind from the bench.

Head to head:

Australia by five points


Australia: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Richie Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 David Porecki, 1 James Slipper (captain).
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Josh Kemeny, 22 Tate McDermott, 23 Carter Gordon.

Argentina: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Rodrigo Isgro, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7 Santiago Grondona, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Hahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Lucas Paulos, 20 Rodrigo Bruni, 21 Lautaro Bazan Velez, 22 Nicolas Sanchez, 23 Matias Moroni.

Date: Saturday, July 15
Venue: Western Sydney Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 19.45 (09.45 GMT; 06.45 Argentina time)
Expected weather: It will be sunny with a high of 24°C and a low of 11°C
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), James Doleman (New Zealand)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

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