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Favourites tag debatable but gutsy Pumas poised to pounce

The highly entertaining Rugby Championship draws to a close this weekend and, although the All Blacks starting as favourites against the Springboks comes as no surprise, the fact that the Pumas are favourites to eclipse the Wallabies is perhaps open for debate.
The All Blacks are on a fire and hope to avenge the loss they suffered in Durban last August, while the Pumas deserve to taste victory after excelling in four of their five matches against the three best teams in the southern hemisphere.

Rugby C’ship – Week 6

2-SPRINGBOKS v 1-ALL BLACKS: Springbok coach Meyer has named an unchanged starting line-up against New Zealand in Soweto this weekend. It’s the first time this season that the Springboks will field an unchanged starting line-up for consecutive Tests, with the team being the one that beat the Wallabies 31-8 in Pretoria at the end of September. The last time the Springboks started two consecutive Tests with the same starting XV was in 2009 in the home victories over New Zealand in Durban (31-19) and Australia in Cape Town (29-17). All Blacks coach Hansen has made two changes to the side that crunched the Pumas 54-15 last weekend, The All Blacks have brought in lock Retallick and winger Gear for Romano and Savea. The world champions have won 15 straight Tests and last lost in August last year when they fell to the Springboks 18-5 in Port Elizabeth. The Springboks impressed during their 31-8 win over the Wallabies last weekend, but face an ominous task to quell arguably the best team in world sport today. The margin of victory by the All Blacks in La Plata came as a surprise last weekend, but a Springboks win over the inaugural winners of the Rugby Championship would be an even bigger surprise. Tip: ALL BLACKS.
4-PUMAS v 3-WALLABIES: The Wallabies have included Harris, Cummins and Tapuai in a new-look backline for their clash with the Pumas in Rosario. Force winger Cummins’ selection comes on his 25th birthday as this season’s backline stalwarts Barnes and Ashley-Cooper were ruled out injured. Harris will now take over the kicking duties from Barnes and has already proved himself in that role this year, kicking the match-winning penalty after the final siren when the Wallabies beat Wales 20-19 in Melbourne. There are five changes to the XV from that which started the previous match — Harris and Cummins replace Barnes and Shipperley respectively, while Tapuai reclaims a spot in the side, standing in for Ashley-Cooper. In the forwards, Timani makes a welcome return to a bulked-up pack, taking over from Dennis on the blindside flank. A further change sees Slipper promoted to start at loosehead prop, switching roles with Robinson, who moves to the bench. Pumas coach Phelan has kept faith with the starting XV that was hammered by the All Blacks. It’s been 15 years since Argentina beat Australia — that was 1997 in Buenos Aires. After a long wait, the Pumas are the favourites this weekend. The Pumas are winless after five matches, but they are always difficult to beat at home, where they take pride in playing well in front of feverish support. It may have been a big ask for the Pumas to roll the All Blacks last weekend, but recent form indicated that they would get a lot closer than falling by 39 points. The Wallabies are missing far too many players and have been forced to make changes once again, so the Pumas have a wonderful opportunity to pounce. Tip: PUMAS.

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