World Champions New Zealand head into uncharted territory as they play their first game in Argentina outside of Buenos Aires (11.10pm BST, Saturday, Sept 29). Argentina last hosted New Zealand in a 2006 match that the All Blacks won by only six points.
Argentina’s showing in the Rugby Championship has been far better than expected. They may have started a little naively against the Springboks but their return match at home saw them share a 16-16 draw. Argentina lost away to both Australia and New Zealand, but in both games they gave their opponents a serious run for their money. They ran out of legs in the last quarter, conceding two tries in each game in the final 20 minutes.
This weekend Argentina have named an unchanged side from that one that went down to Australia. All eyes will once again be on their forward pack, especially after the working over they gave the All Blacks in Wellington earlier in the tournament. New Zealand did win that game but for large parts they were dominated by the Pumas excellent defence and remarkable work rate at the breakdown.
In decent conditions this weekend, Argentina will have to show that they have more than Juan Martin Hernandez’s right boot. Resorting to a purely a kicking game is not going to see the home side beat the all-conquering All Blacks.
New Zealand, who have never lost to Argentina in 11 previous matches, can bring back the world’s best fly-half in Dan Carter for this weeks match. He has not featured since round one after sustaining an injury.
Carter will combine with Otago scrum-half Aaron Smith, who has replaced Piri Weepu after his breathtaking individual try against South Africa two weeks ago. Smith had been dropped for an off-field discretion, but he answered his critics in the perfect way and a starting berth this weekend is just reward.
New Zealand have made less changes than they have done in previous rounds and perhaps it is a sign that Steve Hansen finally understands his best XV. The All-Black backline is where Argentina could find themselves in trouble up against the likes of Dagg, Savea and Jane out wide. There is no team in world rugby that competes with their creativity, power and variety.
Up front New Zealand are continuing with a largely Crusaders-based pack, with Luke Romano once again teaming up with Sam Whitelock in the second row. Andrew Hore is selected in front of Kevin Mealamu at hooker and Owen Franks will need a big game against Rodrigo Roncero, the excellent Argentine prop.
Argentina v New Zealand Betting Tips
New Zealand will too strong for Argentina, and although the game may be tight for at least the first 50 minutes, expect New Zealand to secure victory in the last quarter.