RWC: Match preview: New Zealand – Argentina

Eden Park, Auckland, Sunday 9th Oct 8:30pm (NZT)
Head-to-head: Played 17, New Zealand 17, Argentina 0
Last meeting: New Zealand 25 beat Argentina 19 at Velez Sarsfield Stadium, Buenos Aires, 2006
Last meeting at a World Cup: New Zealand 46 beat Argentina 15 at Athletic Park, Wellington, 1987

Team news: Zac Guildford has been ruled out after a minor hamstring twinge suffered at training on Tuesday. The injury comes on to of the loss of fellow outside backs Israel Dagg and Richard Kahui also sustaining leg injuries. Mils Muliaina retains his place in the number 15 jersey with because of Dagg’s injury and the veteren will play his 100th test in the black jersey. The forward pack was an easy pick for Graham Henry with captain Richie McCaw once again named in the seven jersey. The most interesting selection has been the inclusion of the mercurial Sonny Bill Williams on the wing. Williams started the match against Canada in the centres but has impressed in his stints on the wing and will cause problems for the Pumas. The Pumas have made only one change to the side that beat Scotland with a late try to seal their place in the quarters. The one change seeing Nicolas Vergallo replacing Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe at the back of the scrum, Fernandez Lobbe has suffered a World Cup ending injury and his leadership and experience will be sorely missed.

Form: New Zealand eased through the pool stages with the only trouble being off the field when Dan Carter injured the tendons in his groin in practice. The number one ranked team in the world dealt to Tonga, Japan, France and Canada conceding a combined 49 points but piling on a massive 240 of their own. Argentina’s path to the quarters was a dicey one to say the least, after going down to pool winners England, they blazed their way past Romania before the heart stopping win over Scotland. The Pumas then eventually got over the line against Georgia in their final match. The Pumas form has been up and down in this tournament which is not ideal going into the match against the hosts.

Prediction: New Zealand are clear favourites in this match and its hard to argue with that after the All Blacks were never troubled in the pool stage. Complacency is always a danger for the men in black and Henry will make sure to remind his team what happened in Cardiff four years ago. The class of the New Zealand’s should get them over the line in what could be an open game.
New Zealand by 20

New Zealand: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Sonny Bill Williams, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (capt), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Kevin Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Ali Williams, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Isaia Toeava

Argentina: 15 Martin Rodriguez, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Felipe Contepomi (capt), 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Santiago Fernandez, 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Leonardo Senatore,
7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Mario Ledesma, 1 Rodrigo Roncero
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy,17 Martin Scelzo, 18 Marcos Ayerza, 19 Alejandro Campos, 20 Alfredo Lalanne, 21 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 22 Juan Jose Imhoff

By Alex Barlow-Smith