Australia play Argentina in their latest Rugby Championship match (11.05am BST, Saturday), a remarkable nine years after the two sides last met. That was in the opening game of the 2003 Rugby World Cup, which Australia won comfortably. Argentina are a completely different proposition nowadays and even stayed with the All Blacks last week for 60 minutes before two late tries took the game away.
There is remarkably one survivor on each side from that meeting back in Sydney in 2003, Australian second row Nathan Sharpe, who will captain the side in the absence of injured Will Genia and Argentinian prop Rodrigo Roncero, who seems to be getting better with age.
Australia are staging this match on the Gold Coast in an attempt to promote the game in different areas of their country. They will be hoping for a better result than the last time they played in a smaller and more intimate stadium. In July the Wallabies played Scotland in Newcastle and suffered one of their most embarrassing defeats in recent years, especially after Scotland had failed to win a match in the Six Nations earlier in the year.
The curse of the Australian Captain has struck again, as Will Genia ruptured a joint in his knee last weekend, ruling his out for six months. It made him the third Aussie captain in succession to suffer a serious injury after James Horwill and David Pocock.
Genia’s injury is serious enough to put his place against the Lions next summer in jeopardy, and without him Australia will really struggle. Australia could practically make an entire XV with injured personnel currently, but they did manage to get back to winning ways last weekend for the first time in the tournament against South Africa in Perth.
In a match of frequent errors, Australia may not have shown a vast amount of skill or creativity, but they did show a great deal of heart as they turned around a half time deficit thanks to tries from Ben Alexander and Scott Higginbottom.
The yo-yo that is Kurtley Beale has once again been dropped, this time to accommodate the return of centre Pat McCabe with Berrick Barnes reverting to full-back. Waratahs lock Kane Douglas makes his debut, while scrum half Nick Phibbs takes over from Will Genia to make just his fifth test appearance.
Argentina should be full of confidence after their decent performance last weekend in horrible conditions against the All Blacks in Wellington. However Argentina will probably need similar conditions if they are to cause an upset on the Gold Coast. Although they may enjoy forward domination over Australia, their limitations in the backs may well be found out. Argentina have recognised this though, and they have made two changes in their backline, bringing in Martin Landajo and Lucas Amorosino for Nicolas Vergallo and Martin Rodriguez. The selection of Amorosino is particularly encouraging, as the ex-Leicester player has far more attacking intent than the defensively-minded Rodriguez.
Australia v Argentina Rugby Betting Verdict
Australia are massive favourites – as short as 1/9 with some bookmakers – despite Argentina’s heroics last week in Wellington. Thanks to their superior back line and more reliable goal kicker, Australia should win cosily as long as they start well. That said, here is our betting advice:
- I could see the Aussies winning by as much as 10 points. However they may struggle to cover the bookies handicap of up to 14 points. So the advice is to back Argentina +14 points @ 10/11 with Stan James Online Bookie.