Preview - Wallabies v Pumas - Green and Gold Rugby
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Preview – Wallabies v Pumas

Preview – Wallabies v Pumas

If it wasn’t for the all-conquering All Blacks you could say that the Rugby Championship was an even competition with the Springboks, Pumas and Wallabies all winning one out of three matches and the margins for the matches not involving the All Blacks being 7 points, 2 points and 6 points.

FORM

The Wallabies – 2016 started with a 3-0 demolition by the Eddie Jones coached England at home and the continuing All Black dominance in the Bledisloe Cup. This theme seemed to be continuing at Suncorp last week when the Springboks led 14-3 after 20 minutes. Thankfully for the Wallabies they were able to hold the Springboks to one penalty goal for the rest of the match to score their first win of 2016.

The Pumas – have had two close matches against South Africa and stuck with the All Blacks for 50+ minutes before being blown away. The Pumas will be pushing for their second win in a single Rugby Championship for the first time and the year of the majority of the team playing together for Super Rugby’s Los Jaguares will help them push towards that goal.

TEAM NEWS

Michael Cheika has made one change to his starting XV naming Rob Simmons in place of Kane Douglas.

NSW Waratahs prop Tom Robertson, who literally answered the call from the Wallabies at half time of the NSW Country Eagles’ Buildcorp NRC match v Melbourne Rising on Sunday and hard hitting Melbourne Rebels backrower Lopeti Timani, are both in line to make their Wallabies debut from the bench. (Although there is still a player from the bench to drop out).

Henry Speight is also in line to replace Drew Mitchell on the bench.

Brumbies scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli has been named to start for the Pumas on Saturday. He is one of four changes to the starting XV for the Pumas. The other three inclusions to the starting XV are Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino and Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias. There has also been some reshuffling within the XV with Javier Ortega Desio and Matias Moroni changing positions and Santiago Cordero swapping wings (or at least jersey numbers).

Gabriel Ascarate is a new addition to the Pumas’ bench.

KEY MATCHUPS

Fly halves Quade Cooper v Nicolas Sanchez: Both players offer plenty of creativity. Cooper seems to be still finding his way back into the Wallabies structure. It will be interesting to see how Sanchez’s game is impacted with his regular halves partner for both the Pumas and Jaguares Martin Landajo starting on the bench.

Number Eights David Pocock v Facundo Isa: Isa has been extremely busy in the Rugby Championship 2016 he has made 43 carries (1st in the competition), made 172 metres (6th), beaten 11 defenders (3rd) and made 4 clean breaks (equal 5th). David Pocock has laid 31 tackles which is 6th in the competition. Pocock has also had some discipline issues conceding 5 penalties. (Or given some of their similarity in stats such as carries and metres gained perhaps it should have been a comparison between Isa and Israel Folau despite the fact they play in vastly different positions).

Hooker/Captains Stephen Moore v Agustin Creevy: as both captains and hookers will play an important role. Creevy has a 96% accuracy at lineout time whereas Moore’s is down at 72%.

Scrumhalves Will Genia v Tomas Cubelli: It will be interesting to see how Cubelli steps up to the starting role. Both players’ role at the base of the ruck will have a significant impact on the game.

Benches: Argentina has struggled in the last quarter of all three games they have played thus far. Whereas the Wallabies have actually scored more points in the last quarter of their games then they have conceded (although only just 12 vs 10).

GAME PLANS

The Wallabies game plan could almost be called the “Doubles”. The Double 10s with Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley and the Double Openside Flankers with Michael Hooper and David Pocock (aka Pooper).

The plan with the double 10 is to create extra creativity, flexibility and unpredictability into the attack. The reason for the two openside flankers is because Hooper and Pocock are both too good to leave out of the starting XV and Cheika would prefer Pocock played out of position than not in the XV. There is still a reasonable amount of criticism as to the effectiveness of Pooper.

The Pumas have some quality hard working forwards with the likes of Facundo Isa, Pablo Matera, Matias Alemanno and Agustin Creevy who will provide headaches in both attack and at the defensive breakdown for the Wallabies and will provide a solid platform for the rest of team. They also have creativity in the back line and the ability to play ball in hand rugby when provided the opportunity.

PREDICTION

With remaining matches in Pretoria and at Twickenham (thankfully not in Buenos Aires) if the Wallabies want to avoid the wooden spoon this is a must win match.

This will be a fiercely contested match.

With the home advantage and what appears to be a more effective bench: Wallabies by six.

MATCH DETAILS

Wallabies: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Karevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11Reece 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

Bench (one to be omitted): Tatafu Polotu-Nau, James Slipper, Tom Robertson, Rory Arnold, Lopeti Timani, Sean McMahon, Nick Phipps, Tevita Kuridrani, Henry Speight

Pumas: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 11 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Javier Ortega Desio, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustin Creevy C, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro

Bench: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Gabriel Ascarate, 23 Matias Orlando

At NIB Stadium, Perth (Saturday 6:05pm WST (local time), 8:05 PM AEST, 07:05am ART, 10:05pm NZST, 10:05am GMT, 12:05pm SAST)
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens, Nick Briant
TMO: Ben Skeen

STATS BY OPTA SPORTS

  • jamie

    Not a huge fan of 2, 4, 6, 7/8, 12, or 14.

    But that doesn’t matter. They’re wearing gold. I’m behind em all the way. Up the mighty wallabies.

    • Seb V

      My thoughts exactly.

  • MST

    Thanks for the great preview Scott. I think you are spot-on. It’s going to be a tight affair and the Wallabies will be happy to get of this game with a win by any margin.

  • dane

    The doubles concept is an interesting one. Two playmakers is a bit obsolete when there is only one real threatening ball runner in the team (Folau). Kerevi is threatening at super Rugby level but is still finding his feet at test level. In the Forwards, the Pooper means that we potentially lose a forward ball runner (Timani/McMahon) though Mumm could easily make way for either of these two.

    I saw a stat earlier in the week where Australia was lagging WAY behind NZ, RSA and ARG in terms of metres gained and linebreaks. It really shed some evidence on the fact that Folau is our only real player that will threaten the line. It seems like a weird team balance for a coach from Randwick

    • jamie

      I don’t think anyone takes Hodge, Kerevi or Folau lightly… Not to mention Cooper and Genia’s running ability. Or Hooper’s, or even bloody Kepu’s when he gets a prop march on.

      • Seb V

        Coopers running ability is pretty average these days. Hope he get’s it back like Genia is starting to do.

        • jamie

          It’s not so much about his ability, it’s his threat. I guarantee there aren’t many SR players who don’t remember what he did to defences in 2011.

    • mikado

      Foley and Kerevi (when released well by QC) are threatening runners.

      Two reasons why Aus lags in metres and linebreaks: first, because they played NZ twice and couldn’t cope with the blitz defence, and second because they have played leaky Argentina yet.

    • Train Without A Station

      How is Kerevi only threatening at Super Rugby level?

      He’s run for over 100m in 2 of his 4 tests, has multiple line breaks and defenders beaten.

  • The Pooper can work – it worked in the RWC and against the Boks. But it can misfire horribly too. The Cooper/Foley combination is a bit more hit and miss so far. Against the AB it looked very ordinary. Against the Boks it didn’t look like the answer for the next four years, it looked like the answer for this week. I know there are a host of injured players in the centres and so being an answer for this week is what’s needed right now but Los Pumas are a lot better organised in terms of a game plan and their players than the Boks.

    They are, since the second test against Wales, the only team that’s actually looked like taking it to the ABs this year after all, which you don’t do without a plan and good teamwork. The Boks have looked a mess in most of their matches and it really comes down to whether the Wallabies can be close enough after 60 to pull it back in the last 20, as the Boks were more through luck than anything else in SA but not in Argentina. I admire your optimism Scott but if I were a betting sort of girl, I’d be putting my money on the other side of the visitors.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Good review Scott. I agree the bench for the Wallabies is likely to be stronger, especially if Timane is retained. I worry about the defence though, especially in close. The AB’s struggled there and I think it’s likely to be a major issue again. If the Pooper and Mumm get caught in there all game then I think the midfield will struggle to contain the Argies. Mumm, Coleman and Simmons are going to have to step up to allow Hooper and Pocock to defend wider. Argies kick too much and that could open it up for Folau and DHP which would be good. Home town should pull the Wallabies through but I’m picking by less than 4

    • McWarren

      KRL, I too am worried about our 10,12 and 13 defence. Hooper needs to resist the urge to just run like a lunatic at everything and stick in that channel. Simmons will add a little more in cover defence than Douglas which may help.

      • jamie

        Off set piece, it’ll be Hooper-Hodge-Kerevi lining up at 10-12-13. As long as Kerevi doesn’t get caught out (which he shouldn’t) I think this is a fairly strong lineup on defence until you hit 11 or 15 where foley will be hiding. 8 don’t even consider cooper a liability in defence anymore. He makes his tackles.

        • McWarren

          Really Hooper standing at 10 for set piece defensive work. That might work in the lineout. Which one of Foley and Cooper are you sticking on the side of the scrum? Worth the price of admission alone.
          With regards to Cooper and Foleys defence, I am not critical of either of them, they make most of there tackles in possibly the toughest channel on the field. My concern is that the Argies are very good going down the 10-12 channel as displayed last week, as Hooper is less effective at defensive rucks I want to see him glued to the 10-12 spot.
          I noticed in last weeks game that Hooper, Hodge and Kerevi were the lining up from a lineout. I think it makes sense, especially if the Argies hoof it downfield to Cooper, Foley and Folau.

        • jamie

          Oh oops. I meant off lineouts yes.

  • mikado

    Good review. I’d go with Aus by six as well.

  • onlinesideline

    Prediction: if Cheika doesnt get the “9 iron” out at half time, the Pumas are poised for a historic win on Aussie soil.

    ppl that have to standup IMHO :

    THE WHOLE F”KING FORWARD PACK

    – if we dont this is going to hurt.

  • RedSheep1989

    Interesting to see that Landajo has been benched. Can’t see why

    • dru

      Surprised me too. Landajo was embarrassing the opposition locks at the rucks and would have been a handful for Simmo/Coleman who dont have a lot of lateral mobility. I’m not expecting Cubelli to have quite the same strengths.

      Thanks for the write up Scott!

  • Brisneyland Local

    Here is my controversial Comment! (I warned everyone).
    Los Pumas, to some degree like the French, are plagued by incosistency! Last week against the AB the bought their A game. They really did! For 50 mins they were looking the best I think I have ever seen them. The BIG question is can they back that up and deliver again. If they do, the Wallabies are in trouble. If they cant then there is a good chance of the Wallabies to break free and get a few meat pies particularly in the final 20 mins!

    Dont get me wrong, our form is crap and only just starting to improve. But I believe this game coud go either way.
    So if the Argie bring their A game. Los Pumas by 7.
    If they dont, Wallabies by 13.

    You were warned up front!

    • McWarren

      Nothing controversial there BL. I think its a good assessment of what may happen. I don’t think the Argies are as flaky as they used to be. If they get nothing else out of a season of SR it could be a consistent professional attitude to fronting up week after week whilst travelling. They have had three games already where they have brought there A game. That scares me. But I still think the WB’s have their measure but not by much.

    • Mica

      I reckon Australia are more like the French now, though I am still waiting for that game when they really fire and everything sticks – maybe it is this weekend……

    • mikado

      In fairness the French have been pretty consistent in the last few years. Consistently poor.

  • Tim

    Lopeti Timani’s imminent selection for the Wallabies has scuttled a bold coup to snare him for Tonga’s World Cup plans. The real reason why Cheika is choosing him

    • jamie

      I really don’t understand that. If he’s not good enough for us, then why’s he good enough to be a threat to us?

  • Pedro

    I think we’ll win handsomely. I do rate the argies but i think traveling from Argentina to nz then Perth is tough and it will show. Australia has had a much easier time of it travel wise. Also i think the wallabies are on the upward tick while the argies had a tough loss after being will in it for 50 minutes.

    Straya by 18.

    • mikado

      Confidence! Good man.

    • thedarknessfan

      pedro , who is going to cover foley and cooper when the argies get their roll on?

  • thedarknessfan

    regardless of the result the darkness wins the rugby championship again (unless that last year when they played one game vs each other actually counts)
    darkness…. then daylight… argentina wobs, then SA then other non important rugby nations….
    winning is awesome , I wish the wallabies could do it twice in a row…

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