Pu­mas, Wal­la­bies play­ing money match at Twick­en­ham

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON:

Al­most a year af­ter play­ing out a tense Rugby World Cup semi­fi­nal, Ar­gentina and Aus­tralia are back at Twick­en­ham to­day in the first Rugby Cham­pi­onship match out­side the south­ern hemi­sphere.

Both unions agreed to shift the match be­cause they need the mil­lions they could pocket if their teams fill 82,000-seat Twick­en­ham, which has twice as many seats as the orig­i­nal venue in Men­doza.

But, un­like at the Rugby World Cup, both teams haven’t done enough to make the last-round match a can’t-miss af­fair. New Zealand won the cham­pi­onship with two rounds to spare, and the Pu­mas and Wal­la­bies are also-rans in the bot­tom half of the stand­ings.

Last week­end, the Pu­mas didn’t come close to the All Blacks at home, while the Wal­la­bies failed in South Africa to turn their dom­i­na­tion into enough points. Aus­tralia coach Michael Cheika said the chance to fin­ish sec­ond in the cham­pi­onship was ir­rel­e­vant to the more im­por­tant chance to re­stock the team. Queens­land back-rower Leroy Hous­ton, on loan at Bath, could be­come the 11th Aus­tralian to make his Wal­la­bies de­but this year if he comes off the re­serves. “It’s pretty clear we’re go­ing through a gen­er­a­tional change,” Cheika said. “We un­der­stand that our chal­lenge in Aus­tralian rugby is to build more depth. But we’re not go­ing to cry about it, talk­ing about los­ing play­ers over­seas. We won’t whinge about a lack of depth - we’ll go out and make that depth in­stead.

“That said, win­ning matches is what it’s all about. No one cares about sec­ond - I can’t re­mem­ber who was in the World Cup fi­nal, I only re­mem­ber that New Zealand won it.” The fea­ture of his se­lec­tion was drop­ping James Slip­per, Aus­tralia’s most-capped prop with 82, from the re­serves and re­plac­ing him with Tom Robert­son, who can prop on both sides and was much younger.

The Pu­mas, whose only win in the cham­pi­onship was at home against South Africa in late Au­gust, chose in­flu­en­tial fly­half Ni­co­las Sanchez (right an­kle and knee) and winger Manuel Mon­tero (left leg) sub­ject to them pass­ing fit­ness tests yes­ter­day. If Sanchez, the Pu­mas’ main kicker, can’t play, then San­ti­ago Gon­za­lez Igle­sias would swap his No. 12 jer­sey for No. 10.

The Pu­mas lost to Aus­tralia in that World Cup semi­fi­nal 29-15, their er­rors giv­ing the Wal­la­bies a two-try start in the first 10 min­utes. The Wal­la­bies got away again in Perth last month, go­ing up 21-0 within 12 min­utes. The les­son must even­tu­ally be learned by the Pu­mas.

Ar­gentina: Aus­tralia: Line­ups:

Joaquin Tu­culet, Ma­tias Moroni, Ma­tias Or­lando, San­ti­ago Gon­za­lez Igle­sias, Manuel Mon­tero, Ni­cholas Sanchez, Martin Lan­dajo; Leonardo Senatore, Javier Ortega De­sio, Pablo Mat­era, Ma­tias Ale­manno, Guido Petti, Ramiro Her­rera, Agustin Creevy (cap­tain), Lu­cas Noguera. Re­serves: Ju­lian Mon­toya, San­ti­ago Gar­cia Botta, En­rique Pieretto, Mar­cos Kre­mer, To­mas Cubelli, Juan Manuel Leguiza­mon, Jeron­imo de la Fuente, Ramiro Moy­ano.

Is­rael Fo­lau, Dane Haylet­tPetty, Samu Kerevi, Bernard Fo­ley, Reece Hodge, Quade Cooper, Will Ge­nia; Lopeti Ti­mani, Michael Hooper, Dean Mumm, Adam Cole­man, Rory Arnold, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (cap­tain), Scott Sio. Re­serves: James Han­son, Tom Robert­son, Al­lan Ala’ala­toa, Kane Dou­glas, Scott Fardy, Leroy Hous­ton, Nick Phipps, Te­vita Kuridrani, Sefa Naivalu (one to be omit­ted). — AP

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