Rugby Championship Preview: Argentina Vs Australia

Argentina will go in search of their maiden Rugby Championship victory when they host Australia on Saturday at the Estadio Mundialista Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza.  The Argentines have lost each of their last nine Tests against the Australians, though four of the five Rugby Championship clashes between the sides have seen Los Pumas pick up a losing bonus point.  Michael Hooper scored two tries against the South Americans in their recent meeting on the Gold Coast and the Wallabies captain has seven tries in his last 11 Tests after failing to score in his first 25 appearances for his country.

Despite making 33 fewer carries and having just 42% of possession in the first clash between the nations this season, Daniel Hourcade’s side still managed eight clean breaks to the hosts’ nine.  Hourcade’s men have played two Tests at this venue, losing 22-17 to South Africa last year and also playing out a 16-16 draw against the same opposition a year before, their only non-defeat in this tournament.  Israel Folau has four tries in three appearances against Argentina, only David  Campese (9) and Chris Latham (5) have scored more for the Aussies against the Argentines.

Los Pumas have failed to score a try in four of 17 Rugby Championship Tests, but never against Australia.  However, the Australians have scored at least one try in 21 of 22 meetings with the South Americans, including 14 in five meetings in this tournament.  The Wallabies have the lowest lineout (79%) and scrum (76%) success rates in the tournament thus far and Hourcade’s side are likely to target this area, particularly the scrum where his side are renowned for their strength and this is emphasised by how his side have won nine penalties or free-kicks from opposition scrums in this tournament, more than twice as many as any other nation.

Argentina have conceded only one more point (140) than the Aussies (139) in the tournament so far and will be hoping to put one over their opponents for the first time since 1987 and in so doing, secure their first win in the Rugby Championship.