Sportal.co.nz 26.Sep.2013Getty Images
HEAD TO HEAD: Played: 17, New Zealand 16, Argentina 0, Drawn 1
LAST TIME: New Zealand 28 def Argentina 13, September 7, 2013 at Waikato Stadium
WALKING WOUNDED: Argentina have been bolstered by the return of experienced lock Patricio Albacete, one of six changes from the side which lost by one point to Australia in their last game. New Zealand are without Richie McCaw, still a week away from consideration, Dan Carter, suffering the shoulder injury in the last outing against South Africa, TJ Perenara, with a stress fracture in his shin, and not being able to include Matt Todd who suffered a pectoral muscle injury last weekend. However, on the plus side, Aaron Cruden is back in the side at first five-eighths.
FORM: New Zealand have clearly enjoyed superior form in being unbeaten so far in the competition. However, such is the relative closeness of the sides, and the ability of Argentina to pounce on mistakes as seen when they scored the first try in Hamilton, that any complacency about the task at hand will prove costly for New Zealand. Argentina have had it tough. Their lack of cohesion is a problem at the start of the competition due to players having to return from their northern hemisphere clubs. But with more time together combinations have the chance to develop which should mean that the Argentine side that lines up for the second Test between the two will be a superior combination to that in the wet in Hamilton.
WE THINK: New Zealand took a pounding at the hands of South Africa in their last outing so the week's break in the competition was well-timed. But the win came at a cost and the ability to have replacements switch into the plan will be vital. Argentina have the knowledge they have their last two games at home and that will be a boost. The forward contest should again be fascinating, especially at the scrum, but the speed in support and the ability to quickly take chances should keep the All Blacks in front by the end of the game. We pickthe All Blacks by 10.
Argentina: 1.Marcos Ayerza, 2.Eusebio Guinazu, Juan Figallo, 4.Julia Farias Cabello, 5.Patricio Albacete, 6.Juan Fernandez Lobbe (captain), 7.Pablo Matera, 8.Juan Manual Leguizamon, 9.Martin Landajo, 11.Nicolas Sanchez, 11.Juan Imhoff, 12.Santiago Fernandez, 13.Marcelo Bosch, 14.Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 15.Juan Martin Hernandez.
Reserves: 16.Agustin Creevy, 17.Nahuel Lobo, 18.Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19.Mariano Galarza, 20.Benjamin Macome, 21.Tomas Cubelli, 22.Felipe Contempomi, 23.Horacio Agulla.
New Zealand: 1.Tony Woodcock, 2.Andrew Hore, 3.Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, 5.Samuel Whitelock, 6.Liam Messam, 7.Sam Cane, 8.Kieran Read (captain), 9.Aaron Smith, 10.Aaron Cruden, 11.Julian Savea, 12.Ma'a Nonu, 13.Conrad Smith, 14.Ben Smith, 15.Israel Dagg.
Reserves: 16.Keven Mealamu, 17.Wyatt Crockett, 18.Charlie Faumuina, 19.Jeremy Thrush, 20.Steven Luatua, 21.Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22.Beauden Barrett, 23.Charles Piutau.