Test Match Preview

Second Test

ARGENTINA VS WALES

Venue: Estadio Brigadier Estanislao López, Santa Fe

Local time kick off 16:40, 19:40 GMT, SA Time – 21:40

Argentina vs Wales at Estadio Brigadier Lopez, Santa Fe

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)

Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Andrew Brace (Ireland)

Television match official: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

 Weather Forecast

There were some that certainly did not like my review comments on last week’s Argentina/Wales game. I said that the game was essentially a boring encounter. I suggested that Argentineans that took to the field were nowhere nearly as committed, focussed or polished as they would be in a Jaguares jersey. I also added that it was a lackadaisical affair, a Test match in name only as the two teams ground out a boring excuse of a game. After the three earlier Test matches on that day, this one was a waste of time.

Exception was taken to comments, with the suggestion that Wales were magnificent in defence and game management.

That they were, and if that were the only measure for an “exciting” game of rugby, this Test would have been ranked magnificent. But is that what rugby is all about? Just defence? Surely not?

I have to repeat what I said in my penultimate paragraph of that review:  “They (Wales) have to ask themselves why they could not add any more tries in the second half. It is no good to just control a game of rugby if you cannot score tries.”

I am hoping that this weekend’s second Test will be more enterprising, more innovative, and thus, more entertaining.

Both teams have the potential to play entertaining rugby. Will they?

We shall have to wait and see. I, for one, will record the game and watch it the next day rather than staying up late again.

Team Talk

The only change to Argentina’s side sees the experienced Martin Landajo come in at scrum-half. Landajo replaces Gonzalo Bertranou who remains in the matchday squad as a replacement, as the Pumas look to bounce back from San Juan.

Wales have made five changes to their XV as Cory Hill continues as captain as Ellis Jenkins, Tomas Francis, Ryan Elias, Aled Davies and Owen Watkin all come into the side.

Their hand was forced by injury as Owen Watkin replaces the injured Hadleigh Parkes.

Jenkins comes into the back-row at blindside flanker to link up with James Davies at openside and Ross Moriarty at number eight.

Hill and Beard continue their partnership in the second-row whilst it is a new look front-row with Ryan Elias and Tomas Francis coming in for their first starts of the tour alongside Rob Evans.

Aled Davies also gets his first start at half-back alongside Rhys Patchell. Watkin comes into the midfield and partners Scott Williams in the centre with Hadleigh Parkes ruled out through injury.

The back three is unchanged from the victory in San Juan last weekend with Hallam Amos at full-back and Josh Adams and George North on the wings.

Discussion

The Pumas cannot be as bad this week as they were last week. There is just too much class, too much experience, and too much skill in the team for yet another dire performance. We can expect something more from them this week.

They will have their hands full! Last week they were slow to the breakdown and were beaten to the ball by Wales. This week the Welsh double up the chase for the ball as they unleash two opensiders, with ruck specialist Ellis Jenkins coming into the side to run with James Davies, adding some pace and very good breakdown skills to the Welsh pack.

The injury to Hadleigh Parkes may be a cause for Welsh concern. I am not sure that Owen Watkin is in the same league as the man he is replacing, and the Argentineans may look to target his channel on the attack.

Last week both teams produced some sterling defence, both achieving tackle success rates in the 90% bracket. However, defence is no longer sufficient to win matches. You simply have to score tries. The old days of “Jakeball” – the corner kicks, chasers, and then forward pressure on the lineouts and rucks in the opponents half of the field, working to force the mistake and penalty opportunity to kick at goal, have been matched and overcome by teams with superior skills and finishing.

Wales will have taken much confidence from last week’s performance. They kept the Pumas at bay for most of the afternoon, so they know their defensive structures and systems are working. However, if the Jaguares pitch up rather than last week’s Pumas, and then play to their Super Rugby standard, the Welsh may have a bit of trouble on their hands. The Jaguares are the top offloading and passing team in the competition, the can play the confusing razzle-dazzle game when they set their minds to it. The Jaguares know how to keep the pressure going until the try scoring opportunity opens up. That form and playing style must surely transfer itself into the Puma jersey?

The Puma/Jaguares are sure to be much improved, which will test the Welsh defences, and will require Wales to engineer more scoring opportunities.

It will not be as easy as it was last week!

Prediction

Wales will be looking to wrap up a 2-0 series win on Saturday.

On the back of their 23-10 win in San Juan last weekend, Warren Gatland’s men will be confident of finishing the job in Argentina.

Last week the Pumas fell way short of their recent form in the Jaguares’ Super Rugby campaign.

The Argentineans will have focussed on their issues in the breakdowns and over the loose ball during the week, they will have discussed their lack of enterprise and intensity, and they will be looking for better focus and penetration from their backs.

Argentina will be much better than last week and I am not sure that this Wales side can step up another gear or two. End of season fatigue, one foot on the plane syndrome, and a hungry Pumas suggests the Pumas will sneak this one by 6 points.

The Teams:

Argentina: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de le Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustin Creevy (c), 1 Santiago Garcia Botta
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Javier Diaz, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Sebastian Cancelliere

Wales: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 George North, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 James Davies, 6 Ellis Jenkins, 5 Cory Hill (c), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Josh Turnbull, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Tom Prydie