Los Pumas will welcome the All Blacks to the Estadio Jose Amalfitani on the 20th of July as from 19:40 local time in a curtain-raising match of a shortened version of the Rugby Championship due this being a Rugby World Cup year. The Argentina Rugby Union will be looking to make amends to a terrible outing last season that saw them finish bottom of the championship, and what better way to start than to face the current champions, New Zealand. The visitors cemented a top-of-the-table finish at the expense of the Argies in 2018 and this game provides a good avenue to showcase the strides made in both teams as the Rugby World Cup draws nearer.
Instead of the customary two-legged affair, these two sides will face each other only once because the fixtures have been adjusted to accommodate World Cup preparations which kicks off in September. Argentina’s provisional squad features five players plying their trade in the top European league as they look to add a new dimension to their gameplay. New Zealand on the other hand will be looking to bag a fourth straight championship albeit with their eyes firmly fixed on the World Cup in which they’ll also enter as defending champions.
MOST RECENT MATCHES
In their previous match, the Argies lost by a narrow 38-35 margin to the Barbarians in an entertaining Autumn Internationals game. Both teams crossed the line five times apiece but a late drop kick goal from Jantjies won the won and the Killik Cup for the Barbarians at the expense of the Pumas.
On the other hand, the visitors were emphatic 66-3 winners against Italy in their most recent match. This game saw the Kiwis put on a dominant performance, like in most of their recent games, and as such were too strong for the Azzurri. New Zealand scored a total of 10 tries and conceded none with the only points given away coming from an Allan penalty.
Argentina’s poor 2018 Rugby Championship form continued into the international friendlies and they are winless in all the four matches that they played in. This means that their most recent win dates back to the 19-23 win away to Australia in the third-last match of the 2018 Rugby championship. The Kiwis on the other hand have played five matches since then, winning four and losing only once to Ireland by 16 points to 9 in an International match back in November 2018.
HEAD TO HEAD
Argentina has faced New Zealand a total of 28 times. In all those encounters, Los Pumas have never recorded a win against the reigning World Champions and the Rugby Championship defending champions New Zealand. Despite that, Los pumas have been able to play out a 21-21 draw once and that dates back to November 1985.
Additionally, the All Blacks have never failed to score a try against the Argies and hence possessing one of the most superior Head-to-Head records in World Rugby.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Must focus will be on the 5 European based players that have been included in the Argentina squad. Key of the five will be Nicola Sanchez who the Pumas will be looking up to inspire them to a successful tournament. Being the record highest scorer for the Argies, Sanchez will be aware of the task ahead as they put the final touches to their squad ahead of the WC in September.
Despite having a lot of players enjoying scintillating forms in the All Blacks squad, Beauden Barrett has been the shining star and leader of the pack. Barrett enjoyed an outstanding 2018 and if he carries his form into the Championship, then he promises to be a thrill to watch.
This match will pit two teams enjoying varying fortunes and with contrasting forms and all things point to a similar result to the previous encounters. This will be a straight-forward win for the All Blacks with a 25+ Margin.