Argentina stunned the rugby world last weekend with a 25-18 victory over the All Blacks in Christchurch. Having now won any of their first 29 clashes with New Zealand, Los Pumas have now won two of the last five as Michael Cheika makes a blistering start to life in charge.
The Kiwis have now lost six of their last eight matches in their worst run of form in over 50 years, with pressure seriously mounting on Ian Foster, who took a swipe at Cheika last week accusing his side of slowing down New Zealand's ball at the breakdown.
It’s a tactic that both Cheika and Foster have deployed over their respective tenures, and last week Argentina were very effective at taking the sting out of the game, which they’ll surely try to replicate this time round.
While the visitors came out on top, they were outscored in regard to tries, as the Kiwis were the masters of their own fate with a lack of discipline seeing their guests kick their way to victory, and Foster will be desperate to ensure they keep the penalty count low this weekend.
Cheika has been quick to point out that their historic victory was only a ‘stepping-stone’ in what is a long 18-month journey to the World Cup next year, and while he would’ve been inclined to keep the same 15 on the field, he backed that claim by mixing it up a bit with four changes. Guido Petti comes in for Matías Alemanno in second row, Tomas Cubelli comes in at half-back, Santiago Cordero gets a chance on the wing while Santiago Grondona stakes his claim at flanker.
All Blacks –13 Point Handicap
Ian Foster has stuck to his guns despite the defeat, starting the same team as last weekend and giving them the opportunity to make amends, and we’re inclined to back them to do so. They’ve lengthened from 1/20 last week to 1/5 now, the longest an All-Black’s side has ever been against Los Pumas, and while there’s reason for it, Argentina are the last Tier 1 side to visit Hamilton and suffered a 57-22 defeat in one of New Zealand’s eight consecutive wins here.
The hosts have to come out swinging here, and there was certainly an element of complacency last time out that won’t be in place here. With the price on the hosts lengthening, the handicap line has shortened in and we’re have to get behind that.
Since the World Cup, their seven home wins have come by an average margin of 38.3 points, with that margin only once slipping below the 23 point mark, and with the handicap here just 13 and New Zealand gunning for a bonus point, we’d be surprised if they fell below that mark.
ALL BLACKS –13 POINT HANDICAP
All Blacks v Argentina Teams
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