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Four key match-ups: Argentina vs New Zealand

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Roar Rookie
19th July, 2019
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The abbreviated Rugby Championship starts this weekend, Argentina host New Zealand in what is set to be a very tantalising match-up in Buenos Aires.

The Pumas will be looking to build on the success the Jaguares had in Super Rugby. Their team has a large contingent of Jaguare players and been boosted with flyhalf Nicholas Sanchez returning.

They will have the belief they can claim their first victory over the All Blacks in their 29th clash.

The All Blacks will have a slightly under-strength team with experienced players such as Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock staying back in New Zealand after being part of the victorious Crusaders Super Rugby team.

There are five players making their debut, with Sevu Reece starting on the right wing. The other four (Atu Moli, Luke Jacobson, Josh Ioane and Braydon Ennor) will be on the bench.

Here are four key match ups for the fixture.

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1. Augustin Creevy versus Dane Coles
The two veteran hookers with contrasting styles of play will both be key figures on the weekend. Creevy always has a large involvement with strong ball carries close to the ruck and the ability to be a nuisance at the breakdown.

His presence and experience is always missed when the routine substitutions are made early in the second half. The Pumas are a better team when is on the field.

After missing a large amount of the international season last year due to injury, Dane Coles will be firing to get regular Test match rugby again.

The dynamic hooker offers great speed and mobility around the field and will challenge the Argentine defence if he is able to roam free. Coles will be an experienced head in what is a relatively new forward pack for the All Blacks for this Test.

2. The lineout
The Puma duo of Guido Petti Pagadizaval and Tomas Lavanini were key components in disrupting opposition lineout ball in Super Rugby. Their brilliant defensive reads for the Jaguares against the Brumbies was a major influence in advancing to the Super Rugby final.

Petti Pagadizaval led lineout steals with 11 during the Super Rugby season. Both locks are also prominent in general play. Lavanini shows great physicality (when it is done within the rules).

Petti is a great athlete with his long strides can make effective line breaks.

There will be a big ask on the world-class Brodie Retallick due to not having his long time locking companion Sam Whitelock with him for this test.

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Retallick will need to shoulder more responsibility in the lineout as the senior second rower. Having Vaea Fifita at blindside flanker gives the All Blacks an athletic lineout option. Fifita took 43 lineouts during Super Rugby season.

3. Pablo Matera versus Ardie Savea
These two exceptional loose forwards may not directly mark each other on the weekend but expect both to have a large influence on this game. Both players can easily put a case up as the best player in Super Rugby this year.

Puma skipper Matera was named man of the match in the Super Rugby final for his ability to making large runs with ball in hand and quality work on defence. Matera showed his complete array of skills with 34 tackle busts, 18 offloads and 492 kick metres this year in Super Rugby.

Savea will start at number eight as he did against the Pumas in 2018. His acceleration off the base of the scrum and ability to make metres in contact will be important for the All Blacks to play with front foot ball.

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He will also work in tandem with Sam Cane to dominate the breakdown.

4. The midfield
The established pairing of Jeronimo de la Fuente and Matais Orlando will have great synergy after playing together for the Jaguares this season.

Both are skilful players who can challenge defences on attack with their great running lines and Latin flair. Orlando scored nine tries in Super Rugby (eighth overall).

Anton Lienert-Brown and Ngani Laumape will want to make the most of a rare starting opportunity in a black jersey. This combination is well balanced with Laumape’s powerful direct running style being supported by the all-round game of Lienert-Brown.

Laumpae will be utilised to get over the gain line and attack the try-line in close. He will need to be mindful of the Argentine pairing as they exposed his defence when the Jagaures beat the Hurricanes.

Lienert-Brown is New Zealand’s form midfielder where he was in the top five in carries (third), defenders beaten (fourth) and offloads (second) during Super Rugby.

These four areas will determine the outcome of what will be an enthralling fixture. A confident and cohesive playing group will be up against a New Zealand team that is trying new combinations and has an inexperienced reserve bench (25 combined caps).

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I am expecting a close game with the All Blacks big-name players leading by example for a victory of 12 points.

Roarers, what is your prediction?