Pu­mas want to breathe easy at the end

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

ARGENTINA will try to pace them­selves look­ing to fin­ish with more stamina in their quest for a first win over the All Blacks in their Rugby Cham­pi­onship Test at Velez Sars­field to­day.

Los Pu­mas took more points off New Zealand than in any pre­vi­ous clash when they scored 22 and were equal to their op­po­nents for nearly three quar­ters of their pre­vi­ous clash in Hamil­ton three weeks ago.

They were let down, how­ever, by their fail­ure to stay the pace for 80 min­utes and lost 57-22, but hope to have learned some lessons as they look to end a run of 22 losses and a draw against the Kiwis.

“In the 60th minute I couldn’t catch my breath any­more,” loose for­ward Javier Ortega De­sio said this week. “We’ve got to be in­tel­li­gent and not ex­haust our­selves so much. “In the heat of the match, play­ing well, go­ing through phases, (do­ing) off­loads from the ground, some­times you overdo things and that’s not smart. Those are the bad de­ci­sions we’re mak­ing.” The play­ers are also aware that in their two Tests on the road in Aus­trala­sia, in­clud­ing a 36-20 loss to Aus­tralia, Argentina’s usu­ally strong de­fence was poor, ship­ping 13 tries. Mean­while, All Black coach Steve Hansen, whose team beat the Springboks 41-13 in Christchurch to clinch the ti­tle two weeks ago, is ex­pect­ing his team to face the usual pas­sion­ate sup­port Los Pu­mas en­joy at home. Hansen is look­ing to con­sol­i­date depth in his squad while maint ain­ing their win­ning mo­men- tum and made four changes to the start­ing XV like Liam Squire,

and nine in to­tal. “Argentina are a very good team,” Hansen said. “They put us un­der real pres­sure at times in Hamil­ton and we’ve worked re­ally hard this week to pre­pare for what we ex­pect to be com­ing.”

It will be the teams’ sev­enth clash in the Ar­gen­tine cap­i­tal, which is where Los Pu­mas have come clos­est to beat­ing the All Blacks, no­tably a 21-21 draw in 1985. The Kiwis snatched vic­tory at the River Plate sta­dium to win 24-20 in 2001, and won 25-19 in their last meet­ing at Velez in 2006.

“I think that lit­tle by lit­tle the gaps are short­en­ing,” said wing San­ti­ago Cordero, who scored Argentina’s early try in Hamil­ton. “We’d never beaten South Africa and we did it twice in a year... I fear the same could hap­pen as in the last matches, play­ing 60 min­utes and then drop­ping our arms. I want that to end.” – Reuters

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