Pumas not rattled as Boks prepare for tough battle
The Pumas made only one change to their starting lineup for the return clash against the Springboks in Mendoza on Saturday‚ which indicates that they are far from rattled.
Despite losing the Rugby Championship opener 34-21 to the Boks in Durban last week coach Mario Ledesma has remained calm. In comes lock Tomas Lavanini for Matias Alemanno in the only change in the starting XV.
On the bench Ledesma has included utility back Jeronimo de la Fuente‚ scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli and hooker Facundo Bosch to replace Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias‚ Martin Landajo and Diego Fortuny respectively.
Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus is wary of the Pumas‚ especially on home soil despite his side scoring six tries last week.
Erasmus also kept changes to a minimum‚ also making a change to the second row where Franco Mostert replaces Pieter-Steph du Toit.
Although the Bok lineout stuttered last week‚ losing four throws‚ Erasmus is more concerned with the breakdown threat that the Pumas pose.
Hooker Agustin Creevy is like an extra looseforward and is often in the mix in the battle for the ball on the deck‚ much like Bok counterpart Malcolm Marx.
“They [the Pumas] are dangerous all over the field‚” Erasmus said. “Creevy and all three of their loose forwards are wonderful at the breakdown and as ball carriers‚ they have fast wingers and an attacking centre.”
Marx‚ who gave another impressive display in the loose exchanges last week‚ will be under pressure in the set piece after failing to connect with his jumpers on four occasions last week.
Mostert’s return will hopefully add cohesion to the lineout as the pair play for the Lions‚ but Marx will still have a massive job to do in the battle for the ball on the deck.
“A team can change many things – attack‚ defence‚ breakdown and set piece – from one game to the next‚ but here in Argentina it is much more emotional‚” Marx said.
“We are focusing on ourselves so we can be better. Creevy is a smart player‚ who knows the ins and outs‚ and so we will have to watch him‚ but really it’s about playing our game.”
Prop Steven Kitshoff‚ who is developing a deserved reputation for changing matches positively when he comes on in the second half‚ was also expecting the scrum exchanges to be fierce.
“Coming from the bench you have to make an impact especially in the first few minutes to inject energy into the contest‚” Kitshoff said.
“It’s going to be a tough‚ physical battle. Argentina have always been one of the more physical packs to scrum against through the years and it’s no different now – it will always be a tactical‚ as well as physical battle in the scrum. We worked hard on our scrums this week and we’re up for it.”
15 Emiliano Boffelli‚ 14 Bautista Delguy‚ 13 Matias Moroni‚ 12 Bautista Ezcurra‚ 11 Ramiro Moyano‚ 10 Nicolas Sanchez‚ 9 Gonzalo Bertranou‚ 8 Javier Ortega Desio‚ 7 Marcos Kremer‚ 6 Pablo Matera‚ 5 Tomas Lavanini‚ 4 Guido Petti‚ 3 Juan Figallo‚ 2 Agustin Creevy (captain)‚ 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Substitutes: 16 Facundo Bosch‚ 17 Santiago Garcia Botta‚ 18 Santiago Medrano‚ 19 Matias Alemanno‚ 20 Tomas Lezana‚ 21‚ Tomas Cubelli‚ 22 Jeronimo De La Fuente‚ 23 Juan Cruz Mallia
South Africa Team
15 Willie le Roux‚ 14 Makazole Mapimpi‚ 13 Lukhanyo Am‚ 12 Andre Esterhuizen‚ 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi‚ 10 Handre Pollard‚ 9 Faf de Klerk‚ 8 Warren Whiteley‚ 7 Siya Kolisi (captain)‚ 6 Francois Louw‚ 5 Franco Mostert‚ 4 Eben Etzebeth‚ 3 Frans Malherbe‚ 2 Malcolm Marx‚ 1 Tendai Mtawarira
16 Bongi Mbonambi‚ 17 Steven Kitshoff‚ 18 Wilco Louw‚ 19 RG Snyman‚ 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ 21 Embrose Papier‚ 22 Lionel Mapoe‚ 23 Damian Willemse