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Analysis: How the Pumas can upset in-form Wallabies

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Expert
24th September, 2021
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Argentina coach Mario Ledesma has selected an unchanged starting XV to take on the Wallabies in The Rugby Championship on Saturday and has a number of potential plans up his sleeves to cause a big upset.

The Pumas side have lost all four of their Rugby Championship matches so far this year, but last week against the All Blacks there were signs that the team were starting to find a rhythm and approach that could bear fruit.

The second half against New Zealand was lost 12-10 but the Pumas scored a lovely try after great work from new flyhalf Santiago Carreras, 23, and in general they dominated both possession and territory.

Whilst many are expecting a Wallabies points fest, Test matches between these two have become very tight affairs. In the past five meetings, Australia have won two, Argentina one and there have been two draws. Points wise there is just a two point average score difference between the two in all games played since 2018.

With a settled side, Ledesma is likely to use a similar game plan to last round’s match with a few new tactics, tailored for the Wallabies. They might be sitting bottom of the table, but the Pumas are a serious threat who could upset Dave Rennie’s momentum.

Pumas to make it rain
The Boks might have lost their two Tests against the Wallabies but it was clear to see that their high ball kicking game did cause some chaos amongst the Australian ranks.

Reece Hodge will be slotting into the full back position to replace the injured Tom Banks on Saturday and he’ll have memories of how he dropped two high balls less than a week ago.

Both Carreras and scrum half Gonzalo Bertranou, have decent kicking games and in the opening 20 minutes there will likely be a few testers for Hodge, Marika Koroibete and Andrew Kellaway.

Rennie himself is well aware of the likelihood of the threat. When asked if he expected an aerial bombardment from the Pumas, the Wallabies coach replied “and every other team we play from now on…”
They know it’s coming: how will Hodge deal with it?

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Santiago Carreras to trust his attacking game
Carreras played his first international game at flyhalf against the All Blacks and behind a pack that was often dominated, he still put in an impressive performance. He was calm under a lot of pressure, controlled the game well when needed and also showed signs of a rare attacking talent with both hands and feet.

Whilst he will be putting up a number of high balls to test the Wallabies, Ledesma will still want the young flyhalf to trust his running game and not shy away from attacking the Wallabies defence.

Pumas will look to stretch the Wallabies backs unlike the Boks
The Wallabies defence was well organised against the Boks in both recent Tests but it was mainly a battle up front and close to the breakdown. The Pumas will look to challenge the Australian side’s midfield and wing defence much more than the South Africans did and they may well find some weaknesses out there.

The Pumas have power and pace in their wide men and when they and Carreras get some space in broken play, they proved against the All Blacks that they can really punish a team.

Turning possession into points
Skipper Julian Montoya commented in a press conference this week that the Pumas had planned to take points from every visit to the All Blacks 22 and that they had failed to achieve that despite spending plenty of time in the Kiwi’s half in the second half.

Against the Wallabies the Pumas will not make the same mistake again. With the power and accuracy of Emiliano Boffelli off the tee, the Pumas will look to punish every penalty that the Wallabies commit and will be aiming to get the scoreboard ticking over with three points after three points as often as possible.

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Putting the Wallabies under scoreboard pressure in the first half will be crucial and picking up three or four penalty goals is a good base to start from for the Pumas.

Forcing the Wallabies into defensive penalty errors
The Pumas were able to put together a number of phases of possession against the All Blacks in the second half last week and it led to gains in terms of territory and scoring opportunities.

Against the Wallabies, Argentina will look to keep hold of the ball and force their opponents into long periods of tackling. Not only will this tire the Australian side, it also increases the chances of penalties as the Wallabies infringe at the breakdown and offside line.

Boffelli’s long range threat will mean that these penalties will become scoring opportunities and the Pumas will jump on every single one of them.

Argentina Side to play Australia
1. Facundo Gigena, 2. Julian Montoya (c), 3. Santiago Medrano, 4. Matias Alemanno, 5. Tomas Lavanini, 6. Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7. Marcos Kremer, 8. Pablo Matera, 9. Gonzalo Bertranou, 10. Santiago Carreras, 11. Emiliano Boffelli, 12. Santiago Chocobares, 13. Lucio Cinti, 14. Santiago Cordero, 15. Juan Cruz Mallia

Replacements:
16. Santiago Socino, 17. Rodrigo Martinez, 18. Enrique Pieretto, 19. Guido Petti Pagadizaval, 20. Joaquin Oviedo, 21. Gonzalo Garcia, 22. Domingo Miotti, 23. Mateo Carreras

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