Argentina vs Australia: Wallabies bolster their pack for Pumas clash

Argentina coach Mario Ledesma wasn’t about to tinker with a starting lineup that gave the Pumas their historic first win over New Zealand in 30 rugby Test matches.

Ledesma made no changes to his starters for the team’s match on Saturday against the Wallabies at Newcastle north of Sydney. That’s exactly a week after the Pumas upset the highly-fancied All Blacks 25-15 in a Tri-Nations match in Sydney while playing their first Test in a year.

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In changes to the reserves, Santiago Socino replaced Facundo Bosch as back-up to hooker Julian Montoya while Facundo Isa was named as back-row cover instead of Tomas Lezana. Emiliano Boffelli replaced rookie back Lucio Cinti on the bench.

Ledesma said his side needed to control the tempo of the match.

“I think its a very balanced team,” Ledesma said of Australia. “Its been a couple of years already where they’ve had an improving set-piece lineout, driving maul, scrum. We’ve got to be spot on with our game plan and our kicking game and control the tempo.”

Australia have made three changes to its starting side from the one that beat New Zealand 24-22 two weeks ago in Brisbane.

Veteran prop Scott Sio comes in for the injured James Slipper at loosehead prop, alongside hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Taniela Tupou. Rob Simmons is set to play his 105th test for the Wallabies at McDonald Jones Stadium at Newcastle north of Sydney, partnered with Matt Philip in the second row.

Ned Hanigan will start at blindside flanker in the third and final change to the starting team, joined in the back row by skipper Michael Hooper and No. 8 Harry Wilson.

“After being left out in our last Test we got the reaction we expected from Scott (Sio), his preparation this week has been excellent and his experience will be invaluable against Argentina,” said Australia coach Dave Rennie.

“The tournament is evenly poised and our fate is in our own hands,” Rennie said.

“We saw how much passion Argentina play with in their performance last weekend and were excited by the challenge in Newcastle.”

Ledesma is being assisted by former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika. Cheika, who said in May he could never coach against Australia, took a consultancy role with the Pumas in September and was credited by several Argentina players with giving them the belief and confidence that they could beat the All Blacks.

“Having Cheika in a team, he has got that sort of motivating aspect about him and he obviously knows Australian rugby really well,” said Hanigan.

“So he’ll definitely be an asset to them.”

Argentina: 15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chapparo, 2 Julian Montoya, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 4 Guido Petti, 5 Matias Alemanno, 6 Pablo Matera (c), 7 Marcos Kremer, 8 Rodrigo Bruni.

Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Santiago Grondona, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Emiliano Boffelli, 23 Santiago Cordero

Australia: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Nic White, 1 Scott Sio, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3 Taniela Tupou, 4 Rob Simmons, 5 Matt Philip, 6 Ned Hanigan, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 8 Harry Wilson.

Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Valetini, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Noah Lolesio, 23 Filipo Daugunu

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