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Match Preview – All Blacks v Argentina

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Contenders to earn their highest finish in the Rugby Championship, the Pumas will face their ultimate test this weekend, when they take on the All Blacks, writes Benedict Chanakira

all-blacks-v-argentina

They will need to be competitive to show any signs of progress and will also offer some indication of where the Springboks and Wallabies rank this season.

The Argentinians will be out to play in their new found style of play and will be interesting to see how they fare. New Zealand is the bench mark and their defence will test the Pumas attack. The Pumas have been able to interlink their forwards and backs and in both games managed to dominate the Springboks.

The battle at the set piece will determine the result as expected. The All Black line out has been dominant and their scrum reliable. This has offered the backs to excel especially form flyhalf Beauden Barrett.

One aspect that the Pumas could fall prey to is the brilliant tactical kicking of the All Blacks, who will entice the away side to run back at them. This will allow them to feed off any mistakes and offer the Argentinians the opportunity to run the ball back to them.

How the Pumas handle this, will determine whether they are ready to challenge or they are still evolving as a tier 1 side. New Zealand are favourites and will play in one of the most exciting games in the Championship tomorrow.

The discipline standard will also be under the microscope in the light of the Owen Franks incident. The Argies have a habit of letting the heat of the game, get the better of them- expect a card or two tomorrow.

Match-up:

Facundo Isa vs Kieran Read will be one of the most exciting battles you see this season. Two players who have shown they are able to link with the backs and also keep it tight and play in the trenches.

The two have been the best number eights in the competition with the All Black skipper more defensive in the Rugby Championship and has been excellent. Isa on the other hand has been a wrecking ball. Attacking with some excellence and impetus.

Beating defenders in their wake while creating opportunities for his support. Up against the best number 8 in the world, the time to make a statement is now. Decisive match up.

Prediction: New Zealand by 14

Previous results:

2015: New Zealand won 26-16 in London
2015: New Zealand won 39-18 in Christchurch
2014: New Zealand won 34-13 in La Plata
2014: New Zealand won 28-9 in Napier
2013: New Zealand won 33-15 in La Plata
2013: New Zealand won 28-13 in Hamilton
2012: New Zealand won 54-15 in La Plata
2012: New Zealand won 21-16 in Hamilton
2011: New Zealand won 33-10 in Auckland
2006: New Zealand won 25-19 in Buenos Aires

Prediction: Expect the Pumas to keep it tight for at least 30 minutes before the hosts pull away. New Zealand to win by 18 points.

The teams:

New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Ramiro Moyano

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