By: Scott McGlynn
Argentina take on Australia in Mendoza on Saturday in round two of the Rugby Championship. Defeated by the All Blacks last weekend in Christchurch, Argentina performed well and will be looking to continue this into Saturday’s game. Australia come into the game in winning form, having edged out South Africa 24-20 in their opening games last weekend in Sydney, courtesy of try in the closing seconds of the game.
Despite their 39-18 defeat to the All Blacks last weekend, Argentina put in a strong performance, with their forwards again leading from the front. The Argentinian scrum and line-out is one of the best in international rugby and their two tries against the All Blacks came from a line-out and maul and they will look to continue this with a strong performance from the forwards against Australia. Argentina also looked to put the ball wide against the All Blacks and attack from deep and with pace in the backs Australia will be keen to slow the ball down and deny Argentina quick ball. Argentina have improved year on year since joining the Rugby Championship and the news earlier this year that an Argentinian team will join the Super Rugby franchise next season will further strengthen the side. The new franchise team already looks strong with 15 international players signed up, including captain Agustin Creevy and playing weekly Super Rugby will be a huge long-term plus for the national team. Argentina defeated Australia in Mendoza last year to secure their first ever Rugby Championship victory and another partisan and hostile reception awaits the Australians.
Australia coach Michael Cheika has made seven changes for the Argentina game as he continues to look to give game time to as many players as possible with the World Cup looming large. Bernard Foley regains the fly-half position from Quade Cooper who didn’t look at his best against South Africa last week and David Pocock starts in the back row after impressing off the bench last week. Prop Greg Holmes is also rewarded with a starting position, having impressed off the bench against South Africa in which was his first test match since 2007. Despite looking towards the World Cup, Cheika and his players will be aiming for victory on Saturday to avenge last year’s defeat in Mendoza but victory also will potentially put them in prime position to win this year’s shortened format Rugby Championship. After underperforming over the past couple of seasons, claiming the Rugby Championship would be an ideal way to lay down a marker before the World Cup.
Argentina are 3 (2/1) to repeat last year’s performance and win on Saturday. Australia are the (4/9) favourites with the draw available at 23 (22/1).