Argentina have made five changes to their starting line up as they make a last ditch bid to end their three-year Rugby Championship drought.
Pumas coach Daniel Hourcade will take a side to Mendoza missing the 120 Test caps’ worth of experience of veteran back rowers Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and Jean Manuel Leguizamon they boasted on the Gold Coast three weeks ago.
Now that the excitement of the crazy last 10 minutes at Newlands has subsided, maybe it’s time for a reality check for the Springboks and their supporters – regardless of what happens at Ellis Park this coming week, the All Blacks remain top of the southern hemisphere pile and there is still a lot of work to be done before their position will be properly challenged.
Launching pads don’t get much better. With the pressure now off, the All Blacks board a flight to Johannesburg today with strut, swagger and no inhibitions.
Yesterday’s four-try 34-13 win over the Pumas clinched a third successive Rugby Championship title but, more importantly, saw the All Blacks regain their attacking groove.
After two weeks battling New Zealand rain they threw off the shackles in La Plata and now have the freedom to craft a gameplan without worrying about any tournament permutations.
To further enhance their 22-test unbeaten run they will be intent on harnessing that flamboyance for a blockbuster clash of styles rematch with the Springboks.
Meyer Praises fit, gutsy Boks
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Saturday applauded the fitness and never-say-die attitude of his team in defeating Australia 28-10 in the Rugby Championship at DHL Newlands.
The Springboks scored three tries in the last ten minutes to seal a bonus point victory.
“We played great rugby at times in the first half, but their defence was great. We became a bit frustrated because of that, but in the second half the fitness levels and impact from the bench was massive for us; I told our conditioning coach Basil Carzis as much afterwards,” Meyer said.
Los Pumas (6) 13 / 34 (20) All Blacks (Final Score)
The Argentinian Pumas and New Zealand All Blacks did battle in The Rugby Championship at
Estadio Único Ciudad de La Plata, Buenos Aires at 00:10 Sunday SA Time (19:10 Saturday ARG Time, 22:10 GMT, 10:10 Sunday NZ Time).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.
If there was a World Cup without the All Blacks, we would have a great chance of lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy. Unfortunately that isn’t going to happen.
I say this because perhaps we may have been a little harsh in our criticism of the Wallabies in relation to our neighbours across the ditch.
The Wallabies are in a predicament, along with South Africa and Argentina. The three of us contest a competition against a side who right now are clearly the best rugby-playing nation.
Let me start off this week’s SuperBru thread by saying “Thanks for nothing, Sharks!”
Typical of the Cell C Sharks, play like plonkers for most of the Currie Cup, but then turn it on just in time to mess up everyone’s GSP.
After losses to the Steval Pumas and then at home to the GWK Griquas, not many gave them a chance at Loftus. Well done to the Sharks though, but it must be added that the Blue Bulls looked like plonkers on Saturday.
Five starting changes evoke visions of a drastic overhaul and yet there is strength in key areas for the All Blacks this week.
Beauden Barrett’s combination with Malakai Fekitoa attracts most interest in Sunday’s test against the Pumas in La Plata for its rookie status.
There will be nerves about Fekitoa being thrown in the unfamiliar second five-eighth role to fill Ma’a Nonu’s absence, but Barrett and centre Conrad Smith should do enough to guide him through his third test start.
The All Blacks had a mantra through the last World Cup, one that has continued to serve them well.
“Expect the unexpected and deal with it” was a change of philosophy after years of striving to leave no stone unturned in the quest for a perfect preparation.
Somewhere along the way they realized that planning to have the best players in the best shape, and the team functioning tickety-boo on the day was unrealistic. It became more about embracing pressure and expectation, and being able to adjust when things inevitably go wrong.
In the years of the old Tri-Nations competition competed for by South Africa, New Zealand and Australia it was universally agreed that the Springboks were at a disadvantage because of the travel schedule.
That may not have changed now that the premier southern hemisphere competition has morphed into the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.
At least that is the view of Bok defence coach John McFarland, who believes that the South Africans have it tough in being the only side in the new competition, which now also includes Argentina, who have to play three consecutive matches away.
Naturally there has been plenty to discuss since New Zealand defeated the Springboks in Wellington and Australia grabbed their second win of the Championship over Los Pumas.
One man though has stolen the headlines since Aaron Cruden’s ill-advised late night drinking session caused him to miss the flight to Buenos Aires.
His two-match suspension is completely the right call in the eye of Krige, who described his actions as “bordering on criminal.”
After being effectively handed the All Blacks’ No 10 jersey for the next two tests against Argentina and South Africa by Aaron Cruden’s surprising time-keeping lapse, Beauden Barrett’s biggest priority in the short term is his goalkicking.
That part of his game was lacking in his first and only test start at first-five – against the Pumas in Napier recently – when he kicked only one from five shots at goal, a poor return which could have been costly.
Major adjustments are not a familiar theme with the All Blacks but that’s exactly what the backline confronts in Argentina this week.
Under Steve Hansen, a consistent selection policy has prevailed. Players must earn their respective chances, or wait for injury to open the door.
This week Aaron Cruden’s ill-advised bender and a lack of depth at second five-eighth will force two serious changes to the inside backs.
Conrad Smith has spoken highly of his midfield partnership with Ma’a Nonu after the pair equalled the world record for caps as a midfield combination in New Zealand’s 14-10 win over South Africa earlier this month.
Sadly, the broken arm suffered by Nonu during the first half in Wellington means they will have a long wait before getting the opportunity to improve on the 55-Test landmark shared with Irish centres, Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy.
As if beating the Springboks and Pumas on their home turf is not onerous enough, it also involves a road trip from hell.
The Wallabies will this week discover the logistics involved in getting to South Africa, Argentina and then back home can send everyone around the twist.
Countless Wallabies can vouch for the fact it is an itinerary fraught with danger. But it is always memorable – and for many past and present Wallabies it ranks among their career highlights. You certainly never forget it.
Only 4 points separated the All Blacks from the Bokke in Wellington, but, as expected, New Zealand were the victors.
Australia managed a 7 point win against the Pumas so there were no surprises for Round 4 of the Rugby Championship.
There we many positives to be taken out of the game from a South African perspective, the biggest being the form of Handré Pollard playing in his first real big Test.
Will Genia and Benn Robinson have been called up to the injury-hit Wallabies for their two-week tour of South Africa and Argentina.
With no less than 13 players ruled out through injury, McKenzie has turned to two assured Test performers to boost the Wallabies for two tough Tests on the road.
Malakai Fekitoa seems set to start for the All Blacks at second five-eighth in Argentina next week with Ryan Crotty still working his way back to fitness after a facial fracture.
Crotty was expected to recover for the test against the Pumas in La Plata next week, but would instead make his return in the NPC with Canterbury and join the All Blacks for the Rugby Championship finale against the Springboks at Ellis Park on October 4.
What a difference a week makes…
The Rugby Championship:
We saw 2 very good test matches, particularly the All Blacks vs Springboks game, played in the Cake Tin.
It was played at tempo for the duration of the match and was superbly refereed by Jerome Garces. Chalk and cheese between what we saw last week.
He seemed to be able to make his decisions with ease, without pressure, and for the most part they were well timed, and accurate. He added huge value to a compelling test match which was deservedly won by the All Blacks.
Thinus Delport acknowledged that New Zealand’s superior experience and mental strength was the difference as they earned a late victory.
He said: “It’s that winning mentality – not panicking, staying calm, making the right decisions.
That’s what it boils down to. One simple error at this level and the game changes.
The Wallabies may have denied Argentina on the Gold Coast, but they could travel to South Africa without the man who helped make the 32-25 victory possible.
Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, whose assured set piece work helped deny the Pumas their customary scrum dominance in the first half at Cbus Stadium, has injured his left ankle and is in “serious doubt” for the Wallabies’ final two Tests of the Rugby Championship.
Wallabies (14) 32 / 25 (7) Los Pumas (Final Score)
The Australian Wallabies and Argentinian Pumas did battle in Round 4 of The Rugby Championship at
Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast at 12:00 SA Time (20:00 AEST, 07:00 ARG Time, 10:00 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 on TV in SA.
Round 3 of the Rugby Championship ended in heartbreak for the Springboks when they went down to Australia by 1 point in the final few minutes of what was not an entertaining match at all.
The referee, the yellow card to Bryan Habana, the failed touchfinder by Morné Steyn and various other reasons have already been dissected and discussed, so we won’t dwell on those.
SANZAR are looking to bring in a challenge system in order to combat refereeing errors, with each team allowed three per game.
Following in the footsteps of cricket and tennis, teams would be able to challenge a referee’s decision, while the TMO would be used only for these challenges, leaving the on-field referee to make the rest of the calls.
There are currently concerns that referees are hiding behind their TMOs at the moment, rather than making their own decisions, and the official in charge would now be responsible for deciding on tries and incidents of foul play.
The news comes after a weekend where both Rugby Championship games featured controversial refereeing decisions, with Argentina denied a perfectly good try when Pascal Gauzère called a knock-on on a charge-down from Leonardo Senatore.
Argentina have dumped both their starting wingers as they aim for a maiden Rugby Championship victory on Saturday night against the Wallabies on the Gold Coast.
The Pumas have made three changes to the run-on side which fell 28-9 to the All Blacks last weekend, with suspended lock Tomas Lavanini replaced by the youthful Matias Alemanno in the only alteration to their powerful forward pack.
The Rugby Championship is, many would argue, the pre-eminent event of its type outside the World Cup.
It may lack the history, and maybe even some of the ingrained tribalism of the Six Nations, but more often than not since 1996 it has featured the top three ranked teams in the world, and many of the best players on the planet.
It has produced some of the most thrilling, spectacular matches ever played, in front of some of the biggest crowds ever to watch the sport.
It is an elite showcase of the game, and it deserves better than what we saw at the weekend.
It has been widely acknowledged that the standard of refereeing in the Rugby Championship this past weekend was less than stellar. All lovers of the game, from fans through to coaches and players, are justifiably exasperated by such result-affecting calls by refs.
Sadly, this is not the first time and, probably, won’t be the last time the rugby world is incensed by sub-standard refereeing performances – unless something proactive is done to address what is a very real problem.
What is missing in all the blustery huffing and puffing though, are solutions or suggestions that the IRB (or World Rugby) can use to address the problem.
So here are my suggestions. My solutions. As just a passionate lover of the sport. See if you agree or disagree. Pick them apart. Point out their weaknesses. Tell me why they won’t work. No hard feelings. All I ask is that for every criticism, you offer an alternative solution.
Hopefully with all the traffic Rugby Talk.com is attracting these days, someone of influence will read all our comments and maybe… just maybe… do something positive with them.
I believe a three-part solution will sort out most of the issues but, like anything, there has to be the political will to address and sort out the problem instead of worrying about offending egos or apportioning blame.
Waratahs hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau will play his 50th Test after being named for the Wallabies to start against Argentina in his first match since the Super Rugby final.
Polota-Nau injured the medial ligament in his right knee in the Waratahs’ historic title win five weeks ago and has been gunning for a comeback ever since, joining the Wallabies 10 days ago to finish his rehabilitation in camp.
He made it through a contact session on the weekend, ran with the side at training on Monday before being named to start on Tuesday in his 50th Test appearance and his first Test since the Wallabies’ final triumph against France in June.
Injury-plagued hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau is set for a shock Wallabies starting return to quell an improved Argentinian outfit closing in on a maiden Rugby Championship victory.
Polota-Nau, without a game for six weeks, will Tuesday be named as one of three changes to Australia’s line-up for Saturday night’s clash on the Gold Coast.
While coach Ewen McKenzie is poised to promote winger Peter Betham and back-rower Ben McCalman, to replace injured stalwarts Adam Ashley-Cooper and Wycliff Palu, he could have easily eased Polota-Nau back on the bench.
Do I really need to confirm what everyone else already knows… This was not a good weekend for referees!
We are operating in a system where I have said that these type of weekends are not avoidable and until key elements of the system are exposed, and then adequately addressed, this will continue into the future.
The referees are not getting it right, and it is pointless saying after the fact, that things need to be looked at, when the writing was on the wall from the get go.
The Wallabies have at last beaten someone perched above them in the world rankings.
It has taken awhile.
But if the Australian players and management seriously start believing they are back on track then it’s time for them to take some ‘truth pills’.
Their one-point win over the Springboks was deeply flawed, exposed many of their inherent weaknesses including a lack of discipline, and showed their fundamental skills are at best average.
The Wallabies can also no longer carry on about being a luckless team, as they received the benefit of a string of dreadful decisions from referee George Clancy, who should have his whistle confiscated after such a diabolical performance. The Springboks have every right to cry foul as they were victims of numerous Clancy blunders.
Will Genia and Joe Tomane will join the Wallabies but Henry Speight’s Test start will have to wait, as Australia begin preparations to face an improved Argentina on the Gold Coast this week.
It is understood Genia is some way off his Test return but will be brought into the training squad this week, along with Tomane and Rebels centre Tom English, after playing in the National Rugby Championship on Saturday.
But in a disappointing development over the weekend, Speight will remain in Canberra after pulling out of an expected NRC appearance with a sore hamstring.
New Zealand (13) 28 / 9 (6) Argentina
It was never going to be pretty, but the All Blacks will find plenty to admire when they look back on a 28-9 win over Argentina.
Steve Hansen’s side delivered enough to keep their coach smiling as they ran in four tries to remain unbeaten in this year’s Rugby Championship.
All Blacks (13) 28 / 9 (6) Los Pumas (Final Score)
The New Zealand All Blacks and Argentinian Pumas did battle in The Rugby Championship at
McLean Park, Napier, New Zealand at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 04:35 ARG Time, 07:35 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 on TV in SA.
After shaking up Argentina’s style of play for this year’s Rugby Championship, coach Daniel Hourcade is now working to improve his side’s mental toughness, captain Agustin Creevy said on Friday.
The Pumas, who meet New Zealand at McLean Park in Napier on Saturday, looked set to record their first win in the competition two weeks ago but slipped to a 33-31 defeat to South Africa.
Argentina had controlled the game for about 60 minutes before the Springboks stormed back from 28-16 down and won with a late Morne Steyn penalty.