New Zealand are set to clash with Argentina at Auckland, on Sunday, October 9, 2011, in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
The All-Blacks are overwhelming favourites to beat the Pumas, even after losing their playmaker Dan Carter to a groin injury he picked in training ahead of his side’s final pool match with Canada. Carter is likely to be replaced by Aaron Cruden. While Pumas’ Coach Turnes concedes the importance of Carter to the all-Blacks, he feels New Zealand would be a hard side beat, nonetheless, with the quality of players they have. It’s not all bad news for New Zealand, as captain Richie McCaw is set to return to action after missing the game with Canada owing to a foot injury.
Argentina were a team to reckon with in the 2007 world cup but they have not displayed that kind of flair at this edition of the event especially on the evidence of their laboured display in their pool match against Georgia. Argentina have their star player Felipe Contepomi carrying a rib injury and appear to be subdued and overall and brilliant in patches.
The All-Blacks’ nightmarish experience against France in the quarter-finals of the last world cup should make the All-Blacks wary of taking the Pumas for granted. And that wariness should be reflected in the team they choose, on Friday, to battle it out in Sunday’s match. Complacency could prove to be the biggest hazard of playing against an Argentina squad not quite so strong as the one that finished third in the last world cup.
That said, since 1976, New Zealand have never lost to Argentina, in 17 meetings between the sides, 13 of which were tests. The last meeting between these sides, in Buenos Aires, in 2006, went 25-19 in the all-Blacks favour.
The Pumas are expected to pose a physical as well as a tactical challenge, on the evidence of their last two meetings with the All-Blacks. Argentina squeezed past Scotland by a wafer-thin 13-12 score-line in their pool match, and on the evidence of that game, the Pumas’ defence did not leak a try.
Ahead of the game, Argentina have injury worries, in addition to Felipe Contepomi’s rib injury, in the form of Juan Martin Hernandez Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe even as the All Blacks are trying to come to terms with the loss of Dan Carter. Hernandez picked up an injury before the world cup began while Lobbe was injured in the pool match against Scotland. Centre Gonzalo Tiese is another player who picked up an injury during the cup.
With their qualification to the quarter-finals, Argentina have earned automatic qualification for the 2015 World Cup to be held in Britain.
New Zealand are bookies favourites to beat Argentina with odds of 1/50 offered on an All-Blacks win, while a Pumas win is quoted at 16/1 and a tie at 33/1.
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An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.