Key Clash Preview: New Zealand v Argentina

Date: 9th October 2011
Time: 20.30 NZT/08.30am BST
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Official: Nigel Owens (WAL)

New Zealand:

Whilst the rest of the rugby world bewailed the loss of Dan Carter and potentially Richie McCaw, the All Blacks took a moment, then pulled their socks up and focused on winning their last pool game against Canada.
Richie McCaw is now back in the squad, playing through a “niggling foot injury that could require surgery after the RWC” and he takes the captaincy.

Elsewhere in the team, Zac Guilford, who scored 4 tries in last week’s game, has torn his hamstring, and has been ruled out, meaning that Sonny Bill Williams has moved out to play on the wing. Israel Dagg and Richard Kahui are also out, thanks to a bruised thigh and hamstring respectively. Mils Muliaina is about to reach is 100th cap, and will be in place at full back.

Argentina:

Encounters with New Zealand will soon become a regular occurrence for the Pumas, as from next year they will be taking part in the expanded Tri-Nations tournament. The game against Georgia was tougher than it perhaps needed to be for Argentina, they took their time to settle, allowing the Georgians to dominate the opening moments.
Most people are not expecting Argentina to progress any further than this in the competition, however belief in the camp is high, and all of the players are looking forward to playing the world number 1’s.

What to Expect:

In his post match interview at the Georgia game, Argentinian captain Felipe Contepomi said that they had been studying the All Black’s form, looking for weaknesses to exploit. Obviously he did not say whether they had found any or not! New Zealand are expecting a physical battle in this game. Argentina will no doubt put in a valiant effort, but the All Blacks will dominate from the word go. Unless of course, the choke, that most thought would come against France, decides to make an appearance.

All Eyes On: Colin Slade & Horacio Agulla

Colin Slade has some rather large boots to fill as he comes in at fly-half. With only 10 caps to his name, he will be responsible for the control and flow of the All Blacks game. It is an awful lot of pressure to handle. But with a team of experienced players around him, who all know their job, he should do well. Slade might find himself a target for the Argentinians, looking to score points from his inexperience, but his half back cohort Piri Weepu will keep him in check.

Horacio Agulla has said this week that if Argentina maintains their calm and focus for the full 80 minutes then they are in with a real chance of beating the All Blacks. Putting his faith in the forwards Agulla will be ready on the wing to take advantage of any opportunities that come his way. Like Colin Slade, Agulla will probably have already been marked by his opposition; meaning that he will find himself surrounded by black shirts whenever he gets a touch on the ball. It will be a real test of his skill to see how he handles this game.

Head to Head: Richie McCaw v Juan Manuel Leguizamón

Having already suffered the heartbreak of losing Dan Carter, the whole of New Zealand has been on tenterhooks over the fitness of their captain Richie McCaw. Losing one talisman is bad enough, but two? More importantly, against a physical Argentinian pack, the All Blacks will want him at his best on the floor. The man opposite him, Leguizamón, has developed into an excellent back-row forward for Argentina and Stade Français. Ferocious at the breakdown and in defence, and able to make a break in attack.

Last result: Buenos Aires, 2006. Argentina 19 – 25 New Zealand.

Weather: Fine and dry. 13° with easterly winds.

Prediction:

The statistics speak for themselves here, Argentina have not won any of the 13 encounters between these two teams. There has been a draw though. On current form I doubt that Argentina will cause what would be the upset of the tournament. New Zealand by 15.

by Christine Lester

3 thoughts on “Key Clash Preview: New Zealand v Argentina

  1. I think if Argentina can get ball early and run at Slade to test his defensive qualities, it could be more difficult than people think. Slade may have experienced players all round him, but that won’t help when he’s got big ugly Argies running at him, either to tackle him or go through him. Slade could be the difference in the game either way, but one thing’s for sure, the Argies will not give up unitl the final whistle, and they will throw everything they can at New Zealand.

  2. I think this match has been written off as an easy win for New Zealand, a swift and easy stroke into the semi finals. The last game between Argentina and New Zealand wasn’t so easy, 6 points the difference and Argentina have possibly improved in the last 5 years.

    Expect Argentina to come out with no pressure to do anything and New Zealand to know that not only would they be losing in a world cup quarter final, in New Zealand, but also to a team they’ve never lost to? The pressure couldn’t be higher on New Zealand and Argentina will want to play rugby.

    You never know. Upsets happen at World Cups. England weren’t expected to beat Australia or France in 2007 and it was a massive upset for France to beat New Zealand, after going through 2nd in their group, losing to Argentina in the process. It’s also worth noting how few tries Argentina have conceded.

    From the point of a neutral it’s really a tantalising fixture. All Blacks are historically the best team and the number one right now. You’ve got to admire that. But the thought of an upset from a ranked outsider with no wins over the Blacks. Well, that’s worth cheering for too.

    My prediction, New Zealand by 8, depending on how fired up Argentina are, maybe by 20.

    1. The Pumas were a real handful in that match and looked more dangerous in the first half, scoring the half’s only try – which was a real cracker. They’re just a bit short on players at the moment through injury. They will continue to improve. The 33-10 score flatters the AB’s a bit and they needed to be an were at their best to win by that margin.

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