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Pumas

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SuperBruOnly 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.

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Will Skelton

Concerns over Will Skelton’s fitness ensured he will be left behind from Wallabies tour.

Will Skelton is already triple-XL. The challenge is ensuring his supersub role doesn’t lead to another “X” or two, according to Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie.

Concerns about dwindling fitness as a bench specialist, and the linked issue of not being a lineout jumper, were on Wednesday identified as the reasons behind Skelton being left out of the Wallabies’ squad to tour South Africa and Argentina next week.

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Will Genia

Recall: playmaker Will Genia has been named in the touring squad for the Wallabies’ trips to South Africa and Argentina.

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.

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Xerox Golden LionsXerox Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his 22-man side to front the Steval Pumas at Ellis Park on Friday.

Ackermann has opted for consistency, making just one change to his starting side. In the forwards, Martin Muller will start at lock in place of the injured MB Lusaseni.

On the bench, Derick Minnie will return from injury to provide cover. Malcolm Marx will need to pass a fitness test later in the week in order to be included on the wood.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

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.

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Jimmy Stonehouse

Unhappy camper: Jimmy Stonehouse

Steval Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse has blasted his team after their 31-27 loss to GWK Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.

The supersport.com website reports, Stonehouse didn’t hold back as he said his team’s performance was nowhere near their normal standards and that he expected an improvement this weekend as they head to Ellis Park to face the Xerox Golden Lions in their next Absa Currie Cup match.

“I think it was the worst performance we have given in the history of Puma rugby,” Stonehouse said.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw scores against the Springboks.

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.

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Tatafu Polota-Nau

No good: Ewen McKenzie talks to Tatafu Polota-Nau at halftime.

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.

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AustraliaArgentinaWallabies (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.

*******************

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SuperBruRound 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.

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George Clancy

In the spotlight: George Clancy

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.

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ArgentinaArgentina 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.

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Tony Johnson

Tony Johnson

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.

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WhistleIt 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.

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AustraliaWaratahs 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.

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Tatafu Polota-Nau

Tatafu Polota-Nau

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.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

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.

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Greg Growden

Greg Growden

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.

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The Rugby Chamionship(Revised)

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.

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The Rugby ChampionshipNew 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.

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Harden up

“You Pumas need to harden up”

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.

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Horacio Agulla

LOW TACTICS: Pumas wing Horacio Agulla believes Argentina will need to tackle low if they are to beat the All Blacks.

Belief is a valuable commodity. When it comes to the Rugby Championship that mental barrier, more than any physical or skill disparity, is holding the Pumas back.

For the most part, Argentina’s set-piece laid a near exemplary platform in two narrow defeats against the Springboks. Similar dominance saw the All Blacks run up half a century against the Wallabies.

The Pumas should have claimed at least one victory over the Boks, but instead left Auckland for Napier yesterday still feeling the frustration of another missed opportunity.

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SuperBruThis weekend sees the resumption of The Rugby Championship with the All Blacks hosting the Pumas in Napier and the Springboks traveling to Perth to face the Wallabies.

Last weekend we had the Round 4 of the ABSA Currie Cup and there has been some movement at the top of the Rugby-Talk SuperBru group.

The 6 Important games we focus on which are played this weekend, consists of the 2 Rugby Championship Test matches as well as 4 ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division matches.

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 Patrick Tuipolotu & Aaron Cruden & Steven Luatua

Patrick Tuipolotu (left), Aaron Cruden and Steven Luatua agree that fans’ support plays a vital role in the All Blacks’ success.

The last two tests have shown the highs and lows of All Blacks’ rugby. Paul Lewis talks to Aaron Cruden, Steven Luatua and Patrick Tuipolotu about expectations and pressure from fans from such polarising experiences.

Some time back in his tenure as All Black skipper, Tana Umaga was asked whether the All Blacks minded carrying so many public expectations every time they played. “No,” he shot back. “It helps us win.”

It seemed a good panel discussion topic to take up with three All Blacks, especially as they and filmmaker Taika Waititi will be engaged in a Rexona-inspired campaign entitled “Do More” – a call to arms to All Black fans to get behind their team during this championship and, especially, next year’s World Cup.

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Richie McCaw

TRY TIME: Richie McCaw rises after scoring a try off the back of a maul in the All Blacks’ Eden Park test against the Wallabies.

The All Blacks have got the masters of the maul thinking hard, with Springboks bosses intrigued at New Zealand’s innovative and successful tactics with this crucial attacking weapon during the early phases of the Rugby Championship.

The big Boks packs have long set the standards in mauling, but assistant coach Johann van Graan has admitted intrigue over the way the All Blacks have developed the art as they displayed in demolishing the Wallabies at Eden Park.

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Argentina

MONSTER PACK: Argentina’s forward pack proved more than up to the task against the Springboks.

Twenty-two thousand fans might twist their necks towards the sky, but All Blacks No 8 Kieran Read is more likely to glare at Argentina’s forward pack before Saturday night’s test in Napier.

While southerlies and rain are forecast, Hawke’s Bay rugby supporters will hope the weather is clear to allow the All Blacks to unleash their backline at McLean Park.

Read knows the New Zealanders cannot do anything about the weather but can still rip the rug out from under the Pumas, and that starts with challenging the visitors’ celebrated scrum.

When All Blacks scrum coach Mike Cron watched the Pumas repeatedly demolish the South Africans’ scrum in their two recent encounters, he would have wasted little time in mapping out some training drills.

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ArgentinaArgentina on Thursday announced two changes for Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks as they chase their first win in the southern hemisphere competition.

Leonardo Senatore replaces the injured Paul Matera to slot in at the back of the scrum, joining veterans Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and Juan Manuel Leguizamon in a rejigged loose trio.

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Beauden Barrett

RUNNING THE CUTTER: Beauden Barrett will make his first start in the All Blacks’ No 10 jersey against Argentina in Napier on Saturday.

Beauden Barrett’s All Blacks apprenticeship is finally over.

The Hurricanes first five-eighth will start in the No 10 jersey against Argentina in Napier on Saturday after a chest injury ruled out incumbent Aaron Cruden.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has made three changes to the side that thrashed the Wallabies 51-20 at Eden Park on August 23, with Israel Dagg recalled at fullback and Ma’a Nonu restored to second five-eighth.

Barrett’s elevation marks a significant milestone for the talented Taranaki pivot after a long wait to finally take the controls of the test side.

The 23-year-old has started twice previously in his 21-test career, but both times at fullback, against Italy in 2012 and then against Japan last year.

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Jimmy Stonehouse

Jimmy Stonehouse

Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse has received a lot of praise for the way his team have impressed this season, but he does not put it down to anything revolutionary.

The Pumas, as a smaller union, were never expected to set the Currie Cup on fire, especially amongst teams with Super Rugby experience and national players waiting in the wings.

However, Stonehouse and his men now sit third on the log, a single point behind the Golden Lions (through four rounds) and many have touted the coach as the ‘next big thing.’

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Martin Landajo

Pumas spark: Martin Landajo

Martin Landajo admits the rain forecast for Saturday in Napier will not help Argentina’s new attacking philosophy.

The Pumas have been the surprise package of the competition so far, pushing South Africa all the way in both matches between the two.

However with heavy rain forecast for the clash with the All Blacks, the Pumas scrum-half believes Argentina’s attacking game will have to be tweaked.

“We are not accustomed to rain, and we prefer the dry weather,” said Landajo, who started both Tests against the Springboks.

“We know it rains a lot in New Zealand so we must adapt.

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Argentina scrum

ACID TEST: The All Blacks’ pack will have to be at its best to deal with a powerful Argentina eight at scrum time on Saturday.

You can blame the goal kicker, you can blame the concession of daft technical penalties or a single colossal blunder at the wrong time.

It’s hard to argue. But the single main reason why Argentina’s strong men could dominate South Africa the other weekend and still end up losing was the train of Springbok replacements.

Coach Heyneke Meyer hooked beaten players from the pitch and sent on an eager second wave of men like Adriaan Strauss and Tendai ‘the Beast’ Mtawarira.

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TJ Perenara

SLIPPERY WHEN WET: All Black TJ Perenara catches the ball during a rain-affected training session in Napier.

Rarely do the All Blacks relish the chance to train in relentless rain and on a sodden pitch.

But when it comes to playing Argentina in New Zealand, those conditions have been a given in recent times, so today’s training at the Napier Old Boys Marist club may prove the perfect dress rehearsal for Saturday’s Rugby Championship test.

“We have a plan A and a plan B, but we have an eye on Saturday’s [forecast] and it looks like it’s going to be reasonably wet later in the week,” backs coach Ian Foster said.

“We’re going in with a plan that we want to play if the conditions are great, but our awareness of plan B is pretty high this week.”

The All Blacks are aware that they played poorly in the wet three weeks ago during a dour 12-12 draw with Australia in Sydney where they kicked too much and struggled with their handling.

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Conrad Smith

TOUGH TEST: Conrad Smith says the All Blacks will need to be smarter in coming to terms with Argentina’s unique style of rugby.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and it seems Conrad Smith has missed his old mate Ma’a Nonu during the midfield pair’s enforced break up.

The old firm has been closed for business since Smith broke his hand during the second June test against England, but seems likely to reopen for business against Argentina on Saturday.

Nonu and Malakai Fekitoa had a run during the third test thrashing of England in Hamilton, and again during a dour 12-12 draw against Australia in Sydney while Smith attended the birth of his first child.

Then in Auckland, Smith and Ryan Crotty teamed up for the Bledisloe Cup bash as Nonu sat out with a bruised shoulder.

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