Rugby World Cup 2011: Quarterfinal Preview: New Zealand vs. Argentina
Quarterfinal 4: New Zealand versus Argentina at Wellington. Sunday October 9th, kickoff 8.30 p.m.
Hosts New Zealand will take on Argentina in what is easily the most lopsided of the quarterfinals.
The All Blacks did not miss a beat as they cruised through their four matches unbeaten.
They opened the tournament with a win over Tonga before further comfortable wins over Japan, France and Canada.
It did come at a cost, however, as they lost star playmaker Dan Carter to a groin injury during a training session.
There are other injury clouds in the camp, including Richard Kahui and Israel Dagg, who have been ruled out for this game, but captain Richie McCaw returns after missing the Japan and Canada games.
The game will also feature a huge personal milestone as Japan-bound Mils Muliaina will join McCaw in the 100-test club as he starts his second game in as many weeks.
The coaches have sensibly stuck with Colin Slade at first-five rather than try utility Piri Weepu, while Sonny-Bill Williams gets a start on the wing and Aaron Cruden, the man called up to the squad to replace Carter, gets a spot on the bench.
Ma'a Nonu also returns to bolster the midfield after having last week off and the forward pack, with the return of McCaw and Kieran Read from recent injuries, has a very settled look to it.
Meanwhile Pool B runners-up Argentina have stuttered through to the playoff stage.
An impressive first-up outing against England was backed up by a convincing win over Romania, before they squeezed their way out of the group after hard-fought wins over Scotland and Georgia.
They play with the usual spirit and steel of Argentinean sides but seem to lack any flair to score points. So far they have faced some of the least potent back lines in the tournament, so this is a massive step up for them. It is unlikely they will be able to contain the All Blacks firepower for long.
Inspirational skipper Felipe Contepomi will lead the way as always, and their forward pack will always compete with the best in the world. But, unfortunately, their best attacking weapon so far in the tournament, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, has been left on the bench.
The All Blacks are simply a far superior side in this matchup and this will be as far as the Pumas go in Rugby World Cup 2011.
Prediction: 41-10 to New Zealand.
New Zealand: 1. Tony Woodcock, 2. Keven Mealamu, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Brad Thorn, 5. Sam Whitelock, 6. Jerome Kaino, 7. Richie McCaw (c), 8. Kieran Read, 9. Piri Weepu, 10. Colin Slade, 11. Sonny Bill Williams, 12. Ma'a Nonu, 13. Conrad Smith, 14. Cory Jane, 15. Mils Muliaina. Replacements: 16. Andrew Hore, 17. Ben Franks, 18. Ali Williams, 19. Victor Vito, 20. Jimmy Cowan, 21. Aaron Cruden, 22. Isaia Toeava.
Argentina: 1. Rodrigo Roncero, 2. Mario Ledesma Arocena, 3. Juan Figallo, 4. Manuel Carizza, 5. Patricio Albacete, 6. Julio Farias Cabello, 7. Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 8. Leonardo Senatore, 9. Nicolás Vergallo, 10. Santiago Fernández, 11. Horacio Agulla, 12. Felipe Contepomi (c), 13. Marcelo Bosch, 14. Gonzalo Camacho, 15. Martín Rodríguez. Replacements: 16. Agustín Creevy, 17. Martín Scelzo, 18. Marcos Ayerza, 19. Alejandro Campos, 20. Alfredo Lalanne, 21. Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 22. Juan Jose Imhoff.
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