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Rugby World Cup 2011 Quarter-Final Preview – New Zealand vs. Argentina

The New Zealand All Blacks will take on Argentina’s Pumas for a place in the Rugby World Cup semi-final, at Eden Park in Auckland on Sunday night New Zealand time.

Sudden death has arrived at the World Cup. This is when everything gets serious. It’s also when the nerves of every New Zealander start jangling, because the All Blacks have a record of losing to teams they were expected to beat as the pressure comes on. Argentina, currently seventh in the official world rankings, certainly fall into that category. How the All Blacks deal with the pressure of finals time will be one of the fascinating sub-stories of this match.

Argentina have gone with a conservative line-up for this match, with speedster Juan Imhoff and match-winner Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino again starting from the bench. Expect their forwards to be powerful, the contest at scrum time to be fierce, and the side to play their hearts out. But Argentina look limited in the backs, they will struggle at the breakdown without a true fetcher to compete with Richie McCaw, and without Juan Fernandez Lobbe their loose forwards have lost their leader and one of the sides best players. When Amorosino does come on, it will be fascinating to watch him run at a high quality defense; so far he has been one of the stars of the World Cup with his ability to beat tackles.

The eyes of rugby fans all over the world will be judging Colin Slade tomorrow. With All Black star and record points scorer Dan Carter out of the world cup with injury, how will Slade fare in his first real test of the world cup? Does he have what it takes to lead the All Blacks to victory in their next three matches? They are huge boots to fill; Slade has looked under pressure this year when he has played, especially against the Springboks in South Africa as an undermanned All Black side lost there this year. However, those who know him say Slade is a young man of strong character who can deal with pressure; all Kiwis will hope so. Aaron Cruden will be watching from the replacements bench with interest, and Piri Weepu is the other potential option at fly-half should the coaches wish to test their options.

Further out in the All Blacks backline, Sonny Bill Williams gets a chance to start at wing, as the Kiwis battle a mini injury crisis out wide; Richard Kahui and Zac Guildford were both passed unfit for this match, as was Israel Dagg, meaning Mils Muliaina gets his 100th test cap as a starter. Muliaina has been a star of the All Blacks for years now and although he has lost a little pace, his clever option taking and calm should help bring balance to the team without Carter.

Expect the All Blacks to win this match by a comfortable margin in the end; expect Argentina to start bravely but eventually be overwhelmed; expect the entire nation of New Zealand to start sweating heavily if the Argentinians are within seven points at any stage during the second half.

Kick off: 8:30pm NZ time / 8:30am GMT / 4:30am Argentina Time.

Starting Line-Ups – New Zealand vs Argentina Rugby World Cup 2011

New Zealand Starting XV

  • 15 Mils Muliaina
  • 14 Cory Jane
  • 13 Conrad Smith
  • 12 Ma’a Nonu
  • 11 Sonny Bill Williams
  • 10 Colin Slade
  • 9 Piri Weepu
  • 1 Tony Woodcock
  • 2 Keven Mealamu
  • 3 Owen Franks
  • 4 Sam Whitelock
  • 5 Brad Thorn
  • 6 Jerome Kaino
  • 7 Richie McCaw (capt)
  • 8 Kieran Read

Replacements

  • 16 Andrew Hore
  • 17 Ben Franks
  • 18 Ali Williams
  • 19 Victor Vito
  • 20 Jimmy Cowan
  • 21 Aaron Cruden
  • 22 Isaia Toeava

 

Argentina Starting XV

  • 15 Martin Rodriguez
  • 14 Gonzalo Camacho
  • 13 Marcelo Bosch
  • 12 Felipe Contepomi (capt)
  • 11 Horacio Agulla
  • 10 Santiago Fernandez
  • 9 Nicolas Vergallo
  • 1 Rodrigo Roncero
  • 2 Mario Ledesma
  • 3 Juan Figallo
  • 4 Manuel Carizza
  • 5 Patricio Albacete
  • 6 Julio Farias Cabello
  • 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon
  • 8 Leonardo Senatore

Replacements

  • 16 Agustin Creevy
  • 17 Martin Scelzo
  • 18 Marcos Ayerza
  • 19 Alejandro Campos
  • 20 Alfredo Lalanne
  • 21 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino
  • 22 Juan Jose Imhoff

About Michael Gardner

Michael Gardner
Michael Gardner is at the Rugby World Cup 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand, providing first-hand coverage of the action on the pitch.

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