Argentina vs Wallabies Rugby Championship preview and prediction

Charlie Lawry Roar Guru

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    For the first time in his three-year tenure, Michael Cheika has named an unchanged lineup as the Wallabies prepare for their showdown with the Pumas in Mendoza.

    There’s plenty at stake, as the Wallabies look to leapfrog the Springboks to finish second in the Rugby Championship. Meanwhile, Argentina will be desperate to earn their first points of the tournament.

    Last week, Argentina went down 10-36 to the All Blacks at home, while 80 minutes wasn’t enough to separate the Wallabies and Springboks for the second time in as many games.

    Despite retaining his starting 15, Cheika couldn’t resist a few bench changes. Tetera Faulkner and Henry Speight come in for Ned Hanigan and Tom Robertson, restoring the usual 5-3 split of forwards to backs.

    For the Pumas, coach Daniel Hourcade has made four changes. In the second row, Marcos Kremer and Matias Alemanno take over from Guido Petti and Tomas Lavanini.

    On the side of the scrum, Javier Ortega gets the nod at 7 in place of Juan Manuel Leguizamon. Meanwhile, Tomas Cubelli is injured so Martin Landajo starts at halfback.

    Argentina
    1. Lucas Noguera Paz 2. Agustin Creevy (c) 3. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro 4. Marcos Kremer 5. Matias Alemanno 6. Pablo Matera 7. Javier Ortega Desio 8. Tomas Lezana 9. Martin Landajo 10. Nicolas Sanchez 11. Emiliano Boffelli 12. Jeronimo de la Fuente 13. Matias Orlando 14. Matias Moroni 15. Joaquin Tuculet

    Subs: 16. Julian Montoya 17. Santiago Garcia Botta 18. Enrique Pieretto 19. Banjamin Macome 20. Leonardo Senatore 21. Gonzalo Bertranou 22. Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias 23. Santiago Cordero

    Wallabies
    1. Scott Sio 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau 3. Sekope Kepu 4. Izack Rodda 5. Adam Coleman 6. Jack Dempsey 7. Michael Hooper (c) 8. Sean McMahon 9. Will Genia 10. Bernard Foley 11. Reece Hodge 12. Kurtley Beale 13. Tevita Kuridrani 14. Marika Koroibete 15. Israel Folau

    Subs: 16. Stephen Moore 17. Tetera Faulkner 18. Allan Alaalatoa 19. Rob Simmons 20. Lukhan Tui 21. Nick Phipps 22. Samu Kerevi 23. Henry Speight

    Israel Folau Australia Rugby Union Wallabies 2017

    (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

    Prediction
    Despite vast improvement over the past decade, the Pumas struggle in this fixture. The Wallabies have won 14 of the last 15 encounters, although that solitary loss did come at Mendoza’s Estadio Malvinas Argentinas ‒ this week’s venue ‒ back in 2014.

    If the Wallabies have been guilty of not putting together a sustained 80-minute performance this season, the Pumas are even worse offenders.

    They have the set piece nous and aggression to make it a tussle, but currently lack the killer instinct to get the results.

    That said, being the last match of the Rugby Championship ‒ and a home one at that ‒ you suspect Argentina will employ the kitchen sink approach. So Wallabies beware.

    The opening 40 minutes against the All Blacks in Sydney aside, the Wallabies have looked much better in recent weeks.

    Bernard Foley’s goalkicking has been reliable, the backline cohesive, and the set piece… well, it’s just about hanging in there. I’m still backing an Aussie win.

    Wallabies to win by 10.