Australia will host Argentina on the Gold Coast at the Robina Stadium on Saturday, with the match counting for the 4th round of the Rugby Championship.
After two bad losses against the All Blacks (by 25 at home and by 28 away), the Wallabies defeated the Springboks at home last week by 5 points. It wasn`t a big surprise as the Australians showed some good rugby in the first two rounds despite the blowout losses, and they were the favorites against the Boks. However, it was pleasing for Australia that they managed to win without arguably their two best players, Folau and Pocock, both of whom will be back for this clash.
Argentina came into this tournament with a new coach and apparently in disarray, but it seems that new manager Mario Ledesma was able to quickly put things in order. After an average display in the first round against South Africa (lost by 13), Argentina played brilliantly to claim a huge win in the second round against the same Springboks (also by 13), and put on a good showing last week against New Zealand as well. Argentina lost by 22 and New Zealand rested many important players, but still it was a very good game by the Pumas and they were unlucky not to keep it even closer.Bet on Australia v Argentina and claim your 100% (100 Eur) bonus at Ohmbet now!
Team news & lineups:
Australia will be excited to have Folau and Pocock back, two of their best guys who give their game another dimension and a step up in quality. There are no new absentees for the Wallabies.
Argentina will make three changes to the lineup which lost in New Zealand last week. Figallo remains a big absentee for the Pumas, but Bertranou returns.
Australia: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Lukhan Tui, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio
Argentina: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Australia has been a nightmare opponent for Argentina lately. The Wallabies won 15 of the last 16 meetings, including the last six (in which Australia averaged 36 points per game). In the 4 meetings which took place in the last two Rugby Championships, Australia won by 16, 12, 25 and 17 points. For some reason Argentina just can`t figure out the Wallabies. They lost badly even when it seemed that they were on the up and Australia was in crisis.
The Pumas will be confident after their last two showings and again they will feel like they have a shot to finally challenge the Wallabies, but Australia remains a very tough proposition for Argentina and should be too strong yet again.
While the Wallabies are still far from their desired standard of excellence, there is reason for optimism. The club teams did better this year in Super Rugby, and the National team showed potential. Even with those two big losses against New Zealand, Australia showed good consistency in this Rugby Championship and a solid game overall.
One big problem for Argentina will be the fact that this game takes place only one week after they had to play in New Zealand. The Pumas put their hearts on the line in that game and fought like crazy for 80 minutes. It was a monumental physical task, and it will be very difficult for the Argentinians to recover, mainly because they don`t have the depth of other Tier 1 sides. They always struggled in the past in these situations and even if they showed some improvement this year (beating South Africa the week after losing to them), it is still a huge risk for them to collapse in the week after facing the All Blacks.
The bookies are giving Argentina some serious credit by setting the point spread barely in double digits here, but Australia looks good and has always been able to take care of the Pumas. The closest Argentina got to the Wallabies in the last 4 years was 14 points back in the 2015 World Cup and chances are they won`t get any closer this time around.
My tip is Australia to cover the 10.5 point handicap. Look for them to be very solid with Folau and Pocock back, and they should have too much for the Pumas – especially if the Argentinians will be indeed affected by the effort they put on last week. Prediction: Australia – Argentina 35 – 18.