New Zealand v Argentina: Rugby World Cup 2015 – as it happened – The Guardian
Afternoon, folks. Welcome one, welcome all, to the Richie McCaw Glory Procession opening ceremony! Behold, the mighty All Blacks, conquerors of all, they who bow to no one, as they trample all before them on the path to World Cup glory. Envy the plucky Argentinians, who have the honour to share the same turf as these titans this afternoon!
Or at least let’s hope not. This is nothing to do with playing favourites or an anti-New Zealand bias – on the contrary, I love to watch them – but that would be a bit boring, wouldn’t it? The signs are that it’s going to be a close tournament – as I write this, Uruguay are hilariously beating Wales 6-0 – and the All Blacks, while favourites, won’t have it all their own way.
To say the draw has been kind to New Zealand is akin to saying that Don Bradman could bat a bit. Pool C looks ludicrously easy for them and today’s match against Argentina is, by far and away, the toughest they’ll play over the next month or so.
Last time the teams met, in the Rugby Championship, the Kiwis came away with a fairly comfortably 39-18 win. Still, they will need to be wary of being caught cold by this immensely powerful, experienced, Argentina team if they’re not to be part of the second shock result in this young tournament (Wales lead 14-9 now and I suspect they’ll cling on for the remaining 55 minutes).
Ah yes, experience. Even with the recalls of Marcos Ayerza and Juan Martin Hernandez, Argentina’s collective caps pale into nothing when stood up to New Zealand’s world record 1,013 (with 316 more on the bench for good measure). It’s arguably that experience more than anything else that makes the Kiwis favourites for the whole damn thing.
Kick-off at Wembley is at the slightly esoteric time of 4.45pm BST. That’s 3.45am if you’re an insomniac/liveblogger in Wellington, or the more palatable time of 12.45pm in Buenos Aires. Here are your teams:
Ben Smith; Nehe Milner-Skudder, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea; Dan Carter, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Jerome Kaino; Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick; Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Tony Woodcock
Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Victor Vito, Sam Cane, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Sonny Bill Williams
Joaquin Tuculet; Santiago Cordero, Marcelo Bosch, Juan Martin Hernandez, Juan Imhoff; Nicolas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli; Leonardo Senatore, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Pablo Matera; Tomas Lavanini, Guido Petti; Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Agustin Creevy (capt), Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: Julian Montoya, Lucas Noguera, Ramino Herrera, Mariano Galarza, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Martin Landajo, Jeronimo De La Fuente, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino