Argentina v Ireland second test preview: Head to head ratings


1.Lucas Noguera Paz – A no.8 until he was 17, the 20 year old struggled against Ireland’ s dominant set piece in Resistencia.5.5David Kilcoyne – The experiment with McGrath as a tight-head, albeit as a replacement, opens the door for Kilcoyne, who had a strong season with Munster despite falling off the international radar recently.8.5
2.Matias Cortese – Thankful for a second resurrection of his international career after a four year hiatus but felt the squeeze at scrum time and lost four lineouts last week.5.5Rory Best – The set piece was locked down, and his darts are finding jumpers without fuss. Best’s Ulster teammate Rob Herring could make his debut off the bench.8
3.Ramiro Herrera – The debutant last Saturday, ‘Cumpa’ had a difficult time head-to-head with Jack McGrath last weekend.6Mike Ross – Ross’s value was immeasurable again last weekend, his considerable experience helping the Irish pack to dominate the set piece. There was nothing to suggest Rodney Ah You is a viable alternative long term.7.5
4.Manuel Carizza – More experienced than his second row partner but failed to make that count or any impression on the Irish set piece, we’re expecting more this week.6.5Devin Toner – Iain Henderson can count himself slightly unfortunate not to earn another start, but Toner keeps the shirt after a superb 2014.8
5.Tomas Lavanini – The 21 year old Racing Metro second row outshone his partner in the engine room with a physical display last weekend, including 14 tackles; one with a big future.7.5Paul O’Connell – O’Connell has called for greater accuracy this weekend, and demanding more from those around him usually pays off, though the lineout was far from the source of those errors at the Estadio Centario.8
6.Rodrigo Baez – Helped stifle Irelands breakdown threat in Resistencia, but a little less conspicuous than his back-row colleagues.6Rhys Ruddock – Debutant Robbie Diack was prominent in the 1st test but Ruddock now gets his opportunity with the two set to go head-to-head for future involvement.7.5
7.Tomas de la Vega – Reputation enhanced, de la Vega thoroughly deserved a consolation try last week, the 23 year old continued his good form having been influential in a national double with Cuba.7.5Chris Henry – It could be that a long season has caught up with Henry but the Ulster openside wasn’t at his best in Resistencia, he’s mentally very strong though so we should see him bounce back.7.5
8.Antonio Ahualli de Chazal – Last weekend Macome led the Pumas superbly with 21 tackles and 47 metres for 12 carries, Ahualli de Chazal will win his 3rd cap and has to repeat that level of performance if Argentina have any chance.6Jamie Heaslip – Coming off the bench never has and never will suit Heaslip, he’s an 80 minute man and will be keen to stamp his mark before leaving a tour which he’s described as ‘intense’.8
9.Martin Landajo – A lively 1st test means Ireland will take heed of the threat he carries around the fringes, he may find the Irish back-row less generous in Tucuman.7.5Eoin Reddan – Conor Murray missed training earlier in the week with a dead leg so Reddan comes in, preferred to Kieran Marmion. Fresh from a week off, he’ll up the tempo and look for gaps.7
10.Nicolas Sanchez – Could be the full package in a couple of years, a quick step and solid in the tackle, a requirement of all good 10s in the modern era.8Johnny Sexton – More than anyone else Sexton might be glad to see a few Leinster players returning to the fold this week having played with a mostly unfamiliar backline in the first test.8.5
11.Manuel Montero – One excellent clinical finish has raised his profile considerably, don’t expect Montero to remain at the Bucara de Buenos Aires club for much longer.7.5Simon Zebo – Zebo needs to show more than a few flashes of his talent to impress Joe Schmidt, his work rate has improved in 2014 and now is the time to show it.7
12.Gabriel Ascarate – The centre returned more metres than any of his teammates in a threatening backline last week, but could be suspect defensively.6Darren Cave – Under difficult circumstances post O’Driscoll’s retirement, Cave was solid but needs to do a little extra if he wants to remain in contention come the autumn. More familiar at outside centre, he played at 12 in the Pro12 semi-final.7
13.Jeronimo de la Fuente – The former 7s player was less prominent than Ascarate in the 1st test, perhaps finding the going tough as he continues to adapt to the fifteen man code.6Fergus McFadden – Luke Marshall missed a few tackles, took a knock on the head, and misses out on selection. McFadden isn’t the long-term solution in the midfield but his versatility works in his favour.6.5
14.Lucas Amorosino – More experienced (30 caps) than the supremely talented Cordero, who started last week, Amorosino spent two seasons at Leicester but currently plays for Oyonnax.6.5Andrew Trimble – Aside from one excellent defensive read which allowed him to run in a try unopposed, Trimble wasn’t at his best in Resistencia. A return to his Six Nations form would be welcomed.7.5
15.Joaquin Tuculet – Part of the Pumas dangerous backs division, but Tuculet is perhaps less of a potential threat to the incumbent test starts waiting to come in for the Rugby Championship.6Rob Kearney – Felix Jones failed to make much of an impression deputising for Kearney in the 1st test, so Ireland are strengthened by their regular fullbacks recall to the XV.7.5


Seven personnel changes ensure that Ireland will use each of the 29 players Joe Schmidt brought to Argentina. There will be debuts for Rob Herring, James Cronin and Noel Reid as replacements, and overall Schmidt will be happy just to expand the player base as he builds towards 2015.

The win in Resistencia was Irelands first on Argentinean soil, and another would be the likeliest result this weekend. The Pumas depth in the squad is impressive looking ahead to future competitions but Ireland just have that edge in the set piece and aren’t likely to slip off tackles for the second week running for fear of the cull. Ireland by 15 .

By David Blair (@viscount_dave)

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images