Rugby Wales play host to Argentina on Saturday. The match will be the third and final meetings between the teams during the RWC 2019-2023 cycle. The first and second fixtures were both in Wales last July; they were moved from Argentina to Cardiff. Saturday’s meeting between the sides is certain to be different to the matches from 2021.
The 2021 series coincided the British & Irish Lions’ tour to South Africa. This meant that there was a distraction, and that Wales was missing players. Unlike then, schedules mean that neither team will be restricted as to who they can select.
Injuries mean Wales go into the match without Leigh Halfpenny and Dewi Lake. Argentina are without talent too; Rodrigo Bruni, Santiago Chocobares, Santiago Cordero, Tomás Cubelli, Guido Petti and Joel Sclavi are out of the tour.
Questions continue to be raised within Wales. Is the formula, right? Is Wayne Pivac the man to coach Wales to the World Cup? Wales were beaten heavily by New Zealand on Saturday. This is hardly a rare instance; indeed, even though Argentina beat New Zealand this year, Los Pumas also fell to a heavy loss against the All Blacks.
Results play a part in the above suggestion so too do structures; Wales have rotated following their defeat. Captain Justin Tipuric moves from one flanker to the other with Dan Lydiate joining him against Los Pumas. Continuity sees Toby Faletau at N8 and Adam Beard and Will Rowlands in the second row.
Changes to the backs see Alex Cuthbert starting on the wing and a double change of note. Louis Rees-Zammit will play at fullback for the first time while New Zealander Gareth Anscombe starts inside Englishman Nick Tompkins at fly half. George North will earn his 107th cap at the age of 30.
Michael Cheika has made no changes to Los Pumas. Julián Montoya leads an unchanged line-up and it comes with an unchanged replacements bench too. The same 23 that defeated England last Sunday will take to the field in Cardiff.
No alterations mean that Eliseo Morales will have an opportunity to make his debut. He and Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro were the unused replacements against England. Montoya will earn his 85th cap, Marcos Kremer his 55th and Pablo Matera will become the third Puma to reach 90 caps. He joins Nicolás Sánchez and Agustín Creevy. No Puma has yet reached the mark of 100 caps.
Sánchez scored 18 points the last time that Argentina faced Wales. Over half the side that started that match will miss Saturday’s game. Retained starting players from the 33-11 win are Montoya, Kremer, Matera, Francisco Gómez Kodela, Matías Moroni, Jerónimo de la Fuente, and Santiago Carreras.
Kremer, Moroni and Carreras will play in different positions compared to in 2021. First, Kremer played second-row but starts this weekend in his usual position of flanker. Second, Moroni played wing but is back starting in his usual position of outside center. Third, Santiago Carreras is now Argentina’s first choice fly half despite playing wing / fullback for Gloucester.
Four of Wales’ starting players also started in the most recent test match between the teams. They are loose head Gareth Thomas, second-rower Will Rowlands, scrum-half Tomos Williams, and center Nick Tompkins.
Argentina’s matches have ben won and lost this year based heavily on the contact area. Winning small battles and avoiding penalties was again a feature of the win over England. Los Pumas won without playing at their peak.
The roof at the famous home of Welsh rugby will be closed for Saturday’s test match. It will facilitate open-running rugby and counteract the rain that would likely otherwise be a factor as it was in London for Los Pumas against England.
1 Gareth Thomas, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Dillon Lewis, 4 Will Rowlands, 5 Adam Beard, 6 Dan Lydiate, 7 Justin Tipuric (Capt.), 8 Taulupe Faletau, 9 Tomos Williams, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 11 Rio Dyer, 12 Nick Tompkins, 13 George North, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 15 Louis Rees-Zammit
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Ben Carter, 20 Jac Morgan, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Owen Watkin
1 Thomas Gallo, 2 Julián Montoya (capt.), 3 Francisco Gómez Kodela, 4 Matías Alemanno, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 6 Juan Martín González, 7 Marcos Kremer, 8 Pablo Matera, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 10 Santiago Carreras, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 13 Matías Moroni, 14 Mateo Carreras, 15 Juan Cruz Mallía
Replacements: 16 Ignacio Ruiz, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Lucas Paulos, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Eliseo Morales, 22 Tomás Albornoz, 23 Matías Orlando
Date: Saturday, November 12
Kick-Off: 5:30pm (UK); 2:30pm (AR)
Venue: Millennium Stadium (Cardiff, UK)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (NZ)
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner (AU); Andrea Piardi (IT)
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen (ZA)
2021-07-17 Wales 13, Argentina 31 (Cardiff, Wales)
2021-07-10 Wales 20, Argentina 20 (Cardiff, Wales)
2018-06-16 Argentina 12, Wales 30 (Santa Fé, Argentina)
2018-06-09 Argentina 10, Wales 23 (San Juan, Argentina)
2016-11-12 Wales 24, Argentina 20 (Cardiff, Wales)
2013-11-26 Wales 40, Argentina 06 (Cardiff, Wales)
2012-11-10 Wales 12, Argentina 26 (Cardiff, Wales)
2011-08-20 Wales 28, Argentina 13 (Cardiff, Wales)
2009-11-21 Wales 33, Argentina 16 (Cardiff, Wales)
2007-08-18 Wales 27, Argentina 20 (Cardiff, Wales)
2006-06-17 Argentina 45, Wales 27 (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
2006-06-11 Argentina 27, Wales 25 (Puerto Madryn, Argentina)
2004-06-19 Argentina 20, Wales 35 (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
2004-06-12 Argentina 50, Wales 44 (Tucumán, Argentina)
2001-11-10 Wales 16, Argentina 30 (Cardiff, Wales)
1999-10-01 Wales 23, Argentina 18 (Cardiff, Wales)
1999-06-12 Argentina 16, Wales 23 (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
1999-06-05 Argentina 26, Wales 36 (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
1998-11-21 Wales 43, Argentina 30 (Llanelli, Wales)
1991-10-09 Wales 16, Argentina 07 (Cardiff, Wales)
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