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Round Two preview for The Investec Rugby Championship

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SANZAR and allblacks.com     24 Aug 2012     Getty Images

That season, Australia snapped a four-year reign by the All Blacks with victories in Wellington as well as Eden Park, as Andrew Slack’s Wallabies, with legends like Nick Farr-Jones, David Campese and Michael Lynagh triumphing 22-9 twenty-six years ago – which remains the last time, and just the fourth, victory over New Zealand at their great Auckland headquarters.

The Wallabies hard fought victories against Wales must seem an eternity ago, whitewashing the Northern Hemisphere’s best team in the Grand Slam champions, but it is the memory of those gritty triumphs (by 8, 2 and 1 point margins) that will steel this week’s underdogs with the knowledge they can compete for 80 minutes.

While the All Blacks may have been victorious, coach Steve Hansen echoed counterpart Robbie Deans in saying it was a match where both teams were “rusty”.

Some would claim that the All Blacks look the team to beat, and on the most rudimentary of championship winning statistics – that is, victory away from home – then the ten-time Tri-Nations winners could give themselves a handy advantage with back-to-back wins.

For the visitors, their hopes have been damaged with the news that David Pocock, their captain and one of their match changing players, has been ruled out, and while any coach will talk about their squad and backups – there is little doubt that the scratching of one of the game’s great opensides will hurt the Wallabies.

The World Champions are not without injury concerns of their own, losing loosehead prop Tony Woodcock, otherwise most of the starting team from Sydney will back up at Eden Park.

The visitors will look to Will Genia, while ‘postponed’ retiree Nathan Sharpe will be a critical figure in a Wallabies team that has lost two frontline skippers so far this year – although there must be some creative attacking support for the new captain (perhaps in Quade Cooper).

For the All Blacks it will be much of the same, with most players having solid outings, although Hansen signalled out the lineout as an area for improvement, despite some advantages in the scrum, while the visitors ruling of the gain line was perhaps the winning of the test.

Most telling is that captain Richie McCaw stressed that the last time the All Blacks played the same opponent in consecutive weeks, Ireland almost recorded their first victory against New Zealand in over a century.

MATCH DETAILS:

Australia versus New Zealand (145th test / 169th if NSW matches included)
Eden Park
Auckland, New Zealand
Kick off (1935 local, 0735 GMT, 1735 NSW/ACT, 0935 SAT, 0435 ARG)
Referee: N Owens (WRU)
AR: A Rolland (IRFU)
AR: L Van der Merwe (SARU)
TMO: B Skeen (NZRU)

HEAD TO HEAD:

Please note these stats do not include the 24 matches played between 1920 and 1928 when NSW represented Australia and played the All Blacks.

Played 144: New Zealand 98, Australia 41, Drawn 5
Last match: Australia 19 - 27 New Zealand @ ANZ Stadium, Sydney (18 August, 2012)

New Zealand record at Eden Park: Played 72, Won 60, Drawn 2
New Zealand record at home: Played 239, Won 196, Lost 37, Drawn 6

Australia record at Eden Park: Played 25, Won 5, Lost 20 (note this includes one match v Wales)
Australia record away from home: Played 246, Won 108, Lost 132, Drawn 6

Point’s aggregate: New Zealand 2819, Australia 1947 (20-14)
Tries aggregate: New Zealand 374, Australia 221 (3-2)

RECENT MATCHES:

18 August, 2012: New Zealand 27 – 19 Australia (1st round of The Rugby Championship)
23 June, 2012: New Zealand 60 – 0 Ireland (3rd test June tour)
16 June, 2012: New Zealand 22 – 19 Ireland (2nd test June tour)
9 June, 2012: New Zealand 42 – 10 Ireland (1st test June tour)
23 October, 2011: New Zealand 8 – 7 France (RWC FINAL)
16 October, 2011: New Zealand 20 – 6 Australia (RWC SF)

18 August, 2012: Australia 19 – 27 New Zealand (1st round of The Rugby Championship)
23 June, 2012: Australia 20 – 19 Wales (4rd test June tour)
16 June, 2012: Australia 25 – 23 Wales (3rd test June tour)
9 June, 2012: Australia 27 – 19 Wales (2nd test June tour)
5 June, 2012: Australia 6 – 9 Scotland (1st test June tour)
3 December, 2011: Australia 24 – 18 Wales (EOY tour)

TEAMS:

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Ma'a Nonu, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Wyatt Crockett.

Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Brodie Retallick, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Ben Smith.

Australia (revised): 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (c), 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson.


Replacements: 16. Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds), 17. James Slipper (Queensland Reds), 18. Radike Samo (Queensland Reds), 19. Liam Gill (Queensland Reds), 20. Nick Phipps (Melbourne Rebels), 21. Anthony Fainga’a (Queensland Reds), 22. Kurtley Beale (Melbourne Rebels)

A week after the Pumas made their historic debut into The Rugby Championship; Argentina will further add to rugby history hosting their first visitor in The Championship with the Springboks leaving the Republic to head to Mendoza for Round Two.

The Springboks were intially based in Buenos Aires before heading to the Western Central province in the Cuyo region, with the site of the 2005 Under-21 World Championship and two previous test matches about to host its most prestigious opponent.

While Argentina may have lost 27-6 to the Springboks they certainly demonstrated they intend to make a mark in The Rugby Championship.

There may have been some comfort considering that the first test, the debut match of their appearance against the Southern Hemisphere’s elite is out of the way, but things will go up a notch with the expectant Argentineans expecting a bit more from their proud troops at home.

After all, in two tests in Mendoza, Argentina are currently unbeaten.

There will also be comfort in the fact that despite seven Springboks wins in Pumas territory, two of Argentina’s last three matches against South Africa in their own backyard have been decided by less than ten points – while the hosts have put three tries on their illustrious visitors on each of those occasions.

Glimpses of the Pumas forward strength was on display, as was the expected Springboks physicality, but like their counterparts in Sydney, there were aspects of rustiness.

The difference between the two sides appeared to be the sharper attacking blade of the South Africans, scoring three tries versus no try from the tournament debutants, but their offensive prowess will be blunted by the absence of Bismarck du Plessis.

With arguably the world’s best hooker out of The Rugby Championship, and strike wing Bryan Habana and lock Andries Becker in doubt the Springboks may have question marks over their selections, but will look to become the second team this season to record a win away from home.

Argentina tried pressure tactics, with Juan Martin Hernandez putting up bomb after bomb in Cape Town, but despite potential evolution of the Pumas attack – perhaps their best chance comes from attacking the Springboks via their traditional strengths.

When their round one clash became a slugfest, the Pumas looked more competitive, so perhaps a war of attrition in front of nearly 50,000 passionate Argentineans will be the better path to success.

Pumas forward Eusebio Guinazu said the team was happy to be included into The Rugby Championship, but now there was a chance to record their first win in front of parochial support.

"We are happy that Los Pumas now have an annual competition, but there is still the bittersweet taste of defeat,” he said.

"We always enter a game to win, but we know we are in a high-level competition."

"Without doubt, the match on Saturday (in Mendoza) will be more difficult, because they realized that we are a team to respect. We also have a clearer picture of how the Boks play and know it will be a game of tremendous intensity."

MATCH DETAILS:

South Africa versus Argentina (15th test)
Estadio Malvinas Argentinas,
Mendoza, Mendoza Province, Argentina
Kick off (1610 local, 1910 GMT, Sunday 26 August 0710 NZT, Sunday 26 August 0510 NSW/ACT,
2110 SAT)
Referee: S. Walsh (ARU)
AR: J. Garces (FFR)
AR: J. Lacey (IRFU)
TMO: Francisco Pastrana

HEAD TO HEAD:

Played 14: South Africa 14, Argentina 0
Last match: South Africa 27 – 6 Argentina @ DHL Newlands, Cape Town (18 August, 2012)

Argentina record at Mendoza: Played 2, Won 2, Lost 0
Argentina record at home: Played 107, Won 51, Lost 51, Drawn 5

South African record at Mendoza: DEBUT MATCH
South African record away from home: Played 189, Won 108, Lost 74, Drawn 7

Point’s aggregate: South Africa 571, Argentina 278 (41-20)
Tries aggregate: South Africa 73, Argentina 26 (5-2)

RECENT MATCHES:

18 August, 2012: South Africa 27 – 6 Argentina (1st round of The Rugby Championship)
23 June, 2012: South Africa 14 – 14 England (3rd test June tour)
16 June, 2012: South Africa 36 – 27 England (2nd test June tour)
9 June, 2012: South Africa 22 – 17 England (1st test June tour)
9 October, 2012: South Africa 9 – 11 Australia (RWC QF)

18 August, 2012: Argentina 6 – 27 South Africa (1st round of The Rugby Championship)
11 August, 2012: Argentina 31 – 17 Stade Francais (friendly)
4 August, 2012: Argentina 21 – 25 Stade Francais (friendly)
23 June, 2012: Argentina 10 – 49 France (3rd test June tour)
16 June, 2012: Argentina 23 – 20 France (2nd test June tour)

TEAMS:

Argentina (revised): 15 Martín Rodríguez, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernández, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Nicolás Vergallo, 8 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe (c), 7 Álvaro Galindo, 6 Julio Farías Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guiñazú, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.

Replacements:16 Bruno Postiglioni, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Leonardo Senatore, 19 Tomás Leonardi, 20 Martín Landajo, 21 Lucas González Amorosino, 22 Juan Imhoff.

South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Pat Lambie, 22 JJ Engelbrecht.