Wallabies and Pumas desperate for first victory
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