Ian Foster isn’t out of the woods just yet, though a comprehensive victory over the Springboks in their last outing has done enough to settle the media down, for the time being at least.
That 35-23 victory ended a run of five defeats in six matches, and the expectation is that recent record should drastically improve over the next few weeks as they face Argentina and Australia twice each in a bid to defend their Rugby Championship title.
Argentina are no pushovers though and seem to have finally found a coach that can make them compete at the highest level in Michael Cheika.
The former Wallabies coach saw off his old side in a 48-17 drubbing in their last outing, leaving them top of the table after two games, though we’d be surprised if it remained that way after the weekend.
Los Pumas have won just once against the All Blacks in 33 total outings, though for the majority of those games the Kiwis were an unbeatable force, especially for a side of Argentina’s calibre, and there’s an argument that this is the closest the two side have ever been in terms of quality and momentum.
Argentina +22.5 Handicap
Argentina have won four of their last seven games, all of which have come against Tier One Nations, their best run against such sides since 2014/15 when they achieved the same feat. Notably, though, three of those four wins came on home soil and the exception came away against a weaker Italy side, so it’s unclear how they’re going to fair on their travels.
Indeed, they’ve lost six of their last seven away outings with that only exception coming against Italy, and their average margin of defeat over those games was 21.3 points. They also lost to the All Blacks twice in the midst of that run but on Australian soil, in thumping 39-0 and 36-13 defeats last year.
This will be real gauge of Los Pumas abilities as even against an out of sorts Kiwi side, back-to-back wins against world super powers is nothing short of a massive statement, and while we can’t quite see them managing that away in New Zealand, there’s an argument that they keep this closer than expected.
The current handicap line sits around the 22.5 mark, over that average away defeat margin suggested earlier. Considering Beauden Barrett is now ruled out with a neck injury and Argentina are looking stronger than ever, the line looks far too long and it’s worth siding with the visitors on the handicap at the prices.
ARGENTINA +22.5 HANDICAP
All Blacks v Argentina Teams
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