This Saturday, Argentina will make the trip across the Severn Bridge to take on a wounded Welsh outfit. Both sides lost their first fixture of the autumn internationals last weekend and will be desperate to leave the Millennium Stadium with nothing less than a win.
Wales are looking to avoid their third loss on the bounce, but after a strong performance against the mighty power of the Springboks, Warren Gatland’s men will be confident that they can beat an Argentinean side that are without a win in their last seven games. Los Pumas know that an eighth straight defeat will result in their worst losing streak in their history.
Wales have come out on top in nine out of the 14 previous meetings between the two sides, but they will not have forgotten their last defeat at the hands of the visitors, when they were beaten 26-12 in their own back yard last November.
Wales are looking to bounce back after being edged out by South Africa in a brutal contest at the Millennium Stadium last Saturday. Gatland has made four changes to the starting line up that took on the Springboks. Cory Allen has been called up to make his Test debut in the centres. The 20-year-old will replace the injured Jonathan Davies despite having made only 10 senior regional appearances. He will line up outside Dan Biggar who is set to take over from Rhys Priestland at fly half.
Rhodri Jones replaces Adam Jones at prop after Jones suffered a calf injury in last weekend’s defeat. The Scarlet will pack down with Richard Hibbard and Gethin Jenkins, who will earn his 100th international cap.
Justin Tipuric returns to the back row in the absence of Dan Lydiate, after making an outstanding defensive contribution last week. The Osprey made eight tackles, coming off the bench, in just 17 minutes. He will take over at seven as Sam Warburton moves to the blind side. Lydiate’s chop tackles brought Warburton into play against South Africa, but the inclusion of Tipuric should provide Wales with plenty of attacking impetus. Scarlets prop Samson Lee could make his international debut as he has been called up to the bench along with Ryan Jones.
Daniel Hourcade has made four changes to the side that were comfortably beaten by England. Santiago Cordero is set to make his first international start after making his debut at Twickenham last weekend. He replaces Juan Imhoff who was forced off with injury in the first half of the England defeat after an impressive start.
Manuel Carizza has been called up to bolster the second row – he will join the veteran Patrico Albacete while Martin Landajo is set to make a return at scrum half. He replaces Tomas Cubelli who drops to the bench. There is also a place in the starting XV for Joaquín Tucelet who will take Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino’s place at full back. Worcester Warriors flanker Leonardo Senatore has been called up to the bench along with Gabriel Ascarate and Tomas Lavanini.
The pride of the Puma pack, the front row, remains unchanged and after causing England a few headaches in the scrum, prior to the introduction of Alex Corbisiero, and Marcos Ayerza and company will fancy their chances against the Welsh – especially with the inclusion of 21-year-old Rhodri Jones, who has only two international caps to his name.
All eyes on
At just 19 years of age, Santiago Cordero is already the proud owner of an impressive highlight reel (see below), having torn apart defences with his scintillating pace and nimble feet at junior level and on the sevens circuit. And while George North is more than capable of dealing with the teenager, if he gives him an inch, Cordero will glide through the Welsh defence without hesitation.
Richard Hibbard was in his element in last Saturday’s arm wrestle with the Springboks. He carried with malice and hammered everything in a green shirt. This week, against a (slightly) less physical Argentinean outfit, he will look to resume his role as the enforcer and lead the Welsh charge as he always does, head first.
Head to head: Toby Faletau v Juan Manuel Leguizamón
Both teams are reliant on the consistency of their No 8s. The ever-impressive Toby Faletau always manages to force his way across the gain line and rarely takes a backward step in defence, but he will be tested when he goes toe to toe with Juan Manuel Leguizamón. The Argentine captain was outstanding at Twickenham. He was tenacious in defence and gallant in attack, overshadowing his opposite man, the promising young Billy Vunipola. But this weekend, Leguizamon faces Vunipola’s stronger and older cousin, in what promises to be an epic clash between two of international rugby’s most prominent juggernauts.
If Wales play with a fraction of the tempo and ferocity with which they took on the Springboks, Argentina will be blown away. Despite the inclusion of some inexperienced backs, Wales are more than capable of putting away an Argentinean side that are out of form and on the end of a morale-crushing losing streak. Argentina will not roll over, but unless they can disrupt the Welsh set piece, which they will target, it is hard to see how they can come out on top. Wales are battered and bruised, but they are well prepared and determined to get back to winning ways. Wales by 15.
By Nathan Hyde (@NathanHyde2)
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images