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After a shock defeat to the Pumas in Durban last week which saw South Africa finish the Rugby Championship with the wooden spoon, the Springboks final competitive outing before RWC 2015 is a return meeting with Argentina in Buenos Aires on Saturday night.
Los Pumas were given an 18.5 start on the handicap by most bookmakers for last week’s meeting with the Boks in Durban but Argentina won 37-25, their first Rugby Championship victory overseas. Winger Juan Imhoff helped himself to three of the Pumas four tries, they led 27-13 at the half time interval and managed to keep the Boks out of range in the second half. Earlier in the tournament there had been little to indicate the Pumas were capable of victory. They failed to score a try in a 34-9 hiding off the Wallabies in Mendoza in Round 2 and they started the tournament with a 39-18 loss to the All Blacks who ran in five tries in Christchurch.
The Boks finished the Rugby Championship without a win and the alarm bells have been ringing in the wake of the defeat to Argentina last week. Earlier in the tournament South Africa were beaten 27-20 by the All Blacks in Johannesburg and 24-20 by the Wallabies in Perth. They had looked more than capable of winning both those matches for long periods but were twice overhauled in the final stages of the game and having lost to Wales in Cardiff in their final game of 2014, they come into this game looking to avoid a fifth successive defeat.
The hosts have made plenty of changes and key amongst them is Sanchez at 10 with Hernandez moving to 12. Upfront Lobbe returns to play flank in a pack showing changes everywhere but in the front row.
Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Juan Manuel Legiuzamón, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Tomás Lezana, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Benjamin Macome, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Marcos Ayerza
Substitutes: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Pablo Matera, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Juan Pablo Socino, 23 Lucas González Amorosino
With de Villiers suffering a fractured jaw Victor Matfield returns as skipper and Lambie starts at ten in much changed line up. Alberts returns from injury to play at 7.
South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Lwazi Mvovo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20, Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Jan Serfontein
Recent Head to Heads, (in Argentina)
2014 Salta Argentina 31-33 South Africa (Tries 3-3)
2013 Mendoza Argentina 17-22 South Africa (Tries 2-1)
2012 Mendoza Argentina 16-16 South Africa (Tries 1-1)
2005 Buenos Aires Argentina 23-34 South Africa (Tries 3-3)
2004 Buenos Aires Argentina 7-39 South Africa (Tries 1-5)
Last week’s win in Durban was Argentina’s first over the Boks in the last 20 attempts, 18 have gone the way of the Boks and one has been drawn.
The Boks have won nine and drawn one of ten visits to Argentina since 1993 but the three most recent Rugby Championship visits were all closely contested.