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Preview: Argentina vs South Africa

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Can Argentina bag a second-straight win over South Africa when they host Saturday’s critical pre-World cup clash in Buenos Aires?

‘Critical’ is hardly a word you’d usually associate with a fixture that has no silverware or championship points riding on it, but in light of last week’s upset in Durban, the Springboks will be desperate to halt their slump and finally get some positive momentum ahead of the big event in England, which is now just a little over a month away.

Win or lose at Vélez Sarsfield this weekend, Heyneke Meyer will probably want to have a quiet whiskey when it’s all over. It’s been one of those weeks.

The Springboks have lost four straight Tests for the first time since 2010 and they had not lost four in a row against different opponents since 1965. Judging by their last three visits to Argentina, putting a halt to that run won’t be easy, especially since they have not taken their strongest side across the Atlantic.

During the Meyer era, the Boks have escaped with two narrow wins (22-17 in 2013 and 33-31 last year) and a draw (16-all in 2012) when visiting the Pumas and on all three occasions they’ve suffered heavily in the set-pieces and the general collisions, as they did last week. Morné Steyn’s boot won’t be around to save them this time, so they will hope Pat Lambie is on song.

There are various reasons why the Boks were so convincingly beaten last week, but they will take heart from the fact that most of them can be remedied.

Complaints that all the players felt “flat” after an extremely hard week of pre-RWC physical conditioning would have been taken into account. With so much to prove and a handful of players fighting for places in the World Cup squad, there should be no lack of intensity. There certainly shouldn’t be a dip from the locals, who will no doubt be fired up in front of their very vocal fans.

Crucially, this week’s referee, Glen Jackson, is from the southern hemisphere. Without some of their usual big ball carriers, the Boks struggled when drawn into the kind of arm wrestle that the Pumas can create under northern interpretations of the ruck laws.

The return of Willem Alberts will also add some beef to the Bok pack and – assuming he is at his full capacity of a long layoff – he should be able to provide some of the impetus that was lacking at Kings Park, even though he is not expected to last beyond half-time.

Meyer spoke this week of playing “more tactically”, essentially saying they had erred in trying to play an open, ball-in-hand game when they should have kicked more.

“I have tried to play crowd pleasing rugby… This past Saturday we tried to play rugby and kicked the ball only seven times, which should have pleased those who want us to play attractive rugby, but we got well beaten. Winning is what it is about and we need to become more tactical in order to do that,” he said.

The Pumas back three can expect a busy afternoon. That attitude has also informed the selections of Lambie and Zane Kirchner at full-back. Kirchner is a favourite punching bag for South African armchair critics, but he has been in good form for Leinster and is reliable under the high ball.

Most importantly, Meyer will demand a tighter defensive performance. Argentina managed eight clean breaks from just 67 carries in their win in South Africa last weekend, an average of one every 8.4 carries. It was three more than the Springboks, who made 110 carries, or a break every 22 carries.

The Pumas will obviously want to build on that performance, and have been able to strengthen their side with the return of world-class performers like Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe.

Having beaten Australia last year, Argentina have won three of their last five Tests at this venue, all against tier one nations. Another big win and they will head to England with a spring in their step and dreams of bettering their heroics of 2007.

 

Previous results:

2015: Argentina won 37-25 in Durban
2014: South Africa won 33-31 in Salta
2014: South Africa won 13-6 in Pretoria
2013: South Africa won 22-17 in Mendoza
2013: South Africa won 73-13 in Soweto
2012: Draw 16-16 in Mendoza
2012: South Africa won 27-6 in Cape Town
2008: South Africa won 63-9 in Johannesburg
2007: South Africa won 37-13 in Paris (RWC)
2005: South Africa won 34-23 in Buenos Aires

The teams:

Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Juan Manuel Legiuzamón, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Tomás Lezana, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Benjamin Macome, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Pablo Matera, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Juan Pablo Socino, 23 Lucas González Amorosino

South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Lwazi Mvovo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Trevor Nyakane
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Jan Serfontein

Date: Saturday, August 15
Venue: Vélez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires
Kick-off: 16:40 local (19:40 GMT, 21:40 SAST)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (France), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

 

 

 

 

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34 COMMENTS

  1. Somebody, please, really, please enlighten me on what Jan Serfontein has done to deserve a spot on the bench ahead of Mapoe?

    HM is really a sucker for pain and criticism, isn’t he?

  2. LionsPTA-

    Ummm….Serfontain is a ZeeBull. Mapoe….ain’t.

    But that’s a glib response.
    I think that for this game – HM is right for choosing JS because he is a tough runner & has crunching tackles.
    HM is not going to wax fanciful one bit for this game. He is gonna go after the Argies with all the finesse of a starving Russian going after a steak.

  3. @LionsinPTA: He has also done nothing wrong in any match as he was the man with the 13 jersey last year for the Boks…

    I feel for Mapoe….he has played well this year and should have been given a change….as a few other Lions players in my view

  4. @Americano: Meyer will be playing his normal game of hitting hard up-front and taking the opportunities in the backs when it comes.

    Run at all course does not work as one need to have a balance in that at test level.

    Stats proven we play more expansive than any other in Championship but we did not win a game. NZ and Aus had a balance and they were better than us….

    Argies showed us last week how we are suppose to play against a disruptive team but I expect a high penalty count against Argies this weekend as we have a Southern referee and they play offside most of the times and slow your ball down in rucks as well from offside positions

  5. Also will never, ever back a team against the Springboks…..does not matter how bad they are….if one do that then we are now better than these Blerrie Cape traitors that still believe in there wine infected minds that we are in isolation due to apartheid.

  6. @LionsinPTA: Only worry is What did Whiteley do?What is the issue with this experiment on PSDT as a loosie when sa have too many loosies! They had a high one this week bunny! think 16-7; its going to be crazy but expect a bok win!

  7. @BC: I’ve given up on what is happening in HM brain, really don’t give a hit anymore.

    No I’m expecting a second loss to the Argies this week.

    @Jacques: No not becoming a Cape Crusader. The day, which looks has arrived, we accept mediocrity is when Bok rugby dies. HM is a mediocre of a coach and will never be a top coach, International wise.

    It pains me, but I cannot accept this shit that is being dished out. The fact that SARU has given HM a second term as Bok coach means that SARU management is weak.

    God knows, but what I heard, we might have a fighting chance, not now, but in the future (this year has gone to the dogs)……hopefully, dear God I’m praying, a change in the guard.

  8. No matter what your reasons and how you sugarcoat it LionsinPTA, you are supporting the opposition against the Boks. If it looks like a Cape Crusader, sounds like a Cape Crusader and smells like a Cape Crusader, chances are, it is a Cape Crusader. Provincialism at its worst.

  9. @Jacques:

    Bunny I am all for never letting the backs get the ball if that is what it takes to win a test.
    S15 I want them to throw it around – test matches its all about winning only.

    BUT – Guys like SunKing are needed with even the most Medieval – trench warfare offensive approach.
    Why?
    Counterattack off turnovers

  10. Na we have a system to insert them now… Aldo

    I pretty much think Ackermann should ask HM for our players back so we can use them to win the CC.

    At the moment he’s just f***king them around…

    I mean what did Lions players dio wrong…

    The top of form flyhalf is jumped over to give an out of form Bull play time

    The top of form loose forwards are ignored in favour of one hasbeen and a 2011 star.

    The top of form outside center is ignored in favour of a retreaded Bulls fullback who played outside center as an age group player

    The top of form wing is ignored for a Bull who plays in France…

    Sounds more like

    Assume the position Lions stars … you should have answered when Ian Schwarz called to offer Bulls contracts…

    This is the only Sponge Bob meme I could find…

    Not that I support Argentina… I just couldn’t care a less what happens…

    Go Lions

  11. Why does it seem to be a case of either / or with Heyneke? What about balance? Play strategically, play clever, play the situations. If it is on to run the ball, then run, if not, play conservative. But Heyneke makes it seem like you can only do one at a time, it is decided before the game, and the guys on the field cannot change it and adapt. It is pathetic if that is the case.

    Oh how I long for a coach who can teach us to play clever rugby. Look at how the Ausies were competitive for years without a world beating pack, by playing clever and pushing the boundaries of the laws, same with the ABs, we can bitch and moan about how they get away stuff, but when we see a ref giving leeway, why do we not adapt and take advantage of the situation?

    Case in point, Saturday’s game against the Pumas. Poite was nowhere, the Argies got away with murder with their spoiling tactics. So what do we do?
    The Coach said we must play running rugby because that is what the public want even if we see it is not working.
    I repeat, DO NOT change the game plan under any circumstances.
    Argies are cheating! Argies are cheating! Poite let’s them get away with all kinds of crap.
    Be that as it may, Boks don’t play the ref, we play as we discussed during practice in the week. What are you thinking man? Want to get into trouble with the Coach?

    As I said before, what I would give for someone who can help us play clever, adaptable rugby.

  12. @Jacques:

    “He was great in every match for the Bulls one player that stood out in a poor Bulls outfit”

    Not quite, he was put in the shade by young Burger Odendaal.

  13. I like HM.
    Its like a blood oath thing due to his doing the right thing with Messerschmitt-Willie.
    But really – he HAD TO.
    Pre-Willie SA had an offense that will look like what you see this weekend. Hard defense & lineout drives for trys.
    That is well & good when you are winning but if you get behind….you’re lost.

    So I think its readily apparent from HM comments & seeing him in the coach box – he’s a nervey guy.
    He is going hard core to his comfort zone ( not “what the fans want to see” – which frankly I thought was a victim-ish statement in that he’s the coach & fans want to see winning there will ALWAYS be complainers on style but scoreboard is THE arbiter of truth).

    This weekend’s game is going to be so raw like a ufc bout that goes to the mat….running rugby types are going to freak. I fear for Cheetah Glory – I could see him coughing blood after having to view the 10 man rugby fest that will take place.

  14. @Craven: I’m saddened by what has become of Jan Serfontein, in the 2012 Junior Championships while everyone was wetting themselves over Handre Pollard i was losing my shit over that super player that was Jan Serfontein, skilfull , strong and a hard tackler.

    Now we only hear how much team bumble bee awards he gets for tackles. People always say the Stormers kills players but somewhere between the Bulls and the Bokke South Africa were robbed of a stellar player.

    Clayton

  15. Is the rugby test in BA even going to take place? BBC news is showing the people of Buenos Aires paddling around the street in canoes due to flooding after heavy rains and reports of thousands being moved from their homes. Is this Loftus Sarsfeld ground high and dry?

  16. he Springboks were greeted by cold and wet weather when they arrived in Buenos Aires on Thursday afternoon for the second Test against Argentina.

    Saturday’s Test, at Velez Sarsfield, will be the Boks’ first encounter in the Argentine capital in almost a decade. The last time the South Africans played there, was in November 2005.

    South Africa have enjoyed good fortune in Buenos Aires before, but Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is under no illusions about the enormity of the task that awaits his team.

  17. You must know how things are if ppl are actually contemplating an argentina win

    If the Boks lose this fixture and they even enteryain the oriospdvt of giving this guy another 4y, then there is something b wrong with SA rugby.

    If he wins the RWC only then do you hive him 4t. He’s akready has 4y which has culminated in 4 straight losses and everyone is just waiting to see his conservative 1/4 final selection unleashed. If that happens and they lose – tata – the proof is in the pudding

  18. Enormity of the task – they are playing argentina for gdsakes – not the all blacks at Eden park.

  19. @Admin: Ok I have just seen on the internet that the worst of the Argentinian flooding is in a town 40km to the west of BA. Nevertheless I guess HM has his wet weather gameplan in place or at least the ability to switch to one if necessary. I would think that wet weather and a heavy field might favour the Pumas given their famous bajada scrum and the fact most of them ply their trade in the NH – Bok supporters should be pleased however that the Boks endure a hit out in conditions they are likely to encounter during RWC.

    The All Blacks are going to need their wet weather gameplan in Auckland tonight given the weather systems that have descended from the north on NZ. The farmers are delighted but I am not sure one can say it favours the All Blacks given the superiority the Aussie forwards had in Sydney last week.

    A great weekend of rugby – enjoy!

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