Wal­la­bies and Pu­mas des­per­ate for first vic­tory

The Mercury - - SPORT - Nick Mul­ven­ney

SYD­NEY: Aus­tralia and Ar­gentina are in the process of re­build­ing to­wards the 2019 World Cup, but Test rugby is a re­sults-based busi­ness and both will be des­per­ate for a first Rugby Cham­pi­onship win of the sea­son when they meet in Can­berra to­mor­row.

Wal­la­bies coach Michael Cheika might only have tin­kered around the edges of the team that drew 23-23 with South Africa last week but winger Marika Koroi­bete would be­come the 22nd new cap blooded in the last two sea­sons if he comes off the bench. Cheika was left brood­ing in frus­tra­tion in Perth last Satur­day af­ter his side gave up a 20-10 sec­ond half lead over the Spring­boks, hav­ing also seen an early 17-0 ad­van­tage dis­ap­pear in a loss to the All Blacks in their pre­vi­ous match.

He will cer­tainly be hop­ing his im­prov­ing Wal­la­bies can keep their foot on the gas if they get in front at Can­berra Sta­dium, es­pe­cially as they will be on the road in South Africa and Ar­gentina for their last two matches in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Like the Wal­la­bies, af­ter run­ning New Zealand close in Dunedin in round two, the Pu­mas have taken some en­cour­age­ment from a bat­tling de­feat against the All Blacks in New Ply­mouth last week.

Coach Daniel Hour­cade has nev­er­the­less re-jigged his back­line and se­lected To­mas Lezana, who usu­ally plays at flanker, as his fourth No 8 in as many matches.

Aus­tralia No 8 Sean McMa­hon is also more usu­ally seen in a No 7 shirt but Cheika thought Hour­cade’s se­lec­tion was more about ex­ploit­ing a per­ceived Wal­la­bies weak­ness at the break­down.

“You’d have to think, look­ing at the team they’ve picked, they’re go­ing to go hard on the ball on the ground,” Cheika said.

“That wasn’t a strong area for us in the first half last week. I think they’ll do what they’ve done be­fore, move the ball around, try and take us in the mid­dle first ... then they’ll try and shift it to their pace out wide.”

Lezana’s back row col­league Pablo Mat­era said the Pu­mas were wary of the back­line chal­lenge they would face in in-form cen­tre Kurt­ley Beale, adding that it was es­sen­tial that the vis­i­tors got off to a good start to­mor­row. – Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.