Argentina will be without Tomas Lavanini when they round off a disappointing Rugby World Cup campaign against the United States.
Lock Lavanini was banned for four matches after he was sent off 18 minutes into the 39-10 defeat to England that all but ended Argentina’s hopes of progressing to the last eight.
After France defeated Tonga, the Pumas will be playing for nothing more than pride in their Pool C finale in Saitama on Wednesday, while USA are eyeing a first World Cup win since 2011.
Eagles fly-half AJ MacGinty believes Argentina could be ripe for the taking.
“With Argentina’s short turnaround, then losing to England and not qualifying and the disappointment they’re facing, they might not show up as well as they would have if they were qualifying,” he said.
“Any time we play competitive games against the tier one nations, I feel like we get better week to week. Having the games against England and France, the pressure is on us to deliver another performance that’s even better than the France game.
“Our focus is on that. If we can do that as a squad and as individuals, then that puts us in a good place for beating Argentina.”
— #USAW7s Champs (@USARugby) October 7, 2019
Nicolas Sanchez returns for Argentina as one of nine changes made by coach Mario Ledesma, while 20-year-old scrum-half Ruben de Haas has been handed a first start for USA.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Argentina – Julian Montoya
Hookers are rarely prolific try scorers, but Montoya has crossed four times in this World Cup. With another try against USA, he will move level with Juan Imhoff for the most scored by a single Argentina player at a World Cup.
United States – Joe Taufete’e
Montoya’s opposite number, Taufete’e has scored more tries (20) than any front-row forward in Test history. However, he has not touched down at a World Cup. For a side that provided little attacking threat against England and France, his ability to end that wait may be key to their hopes of a shock.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Argentina have won all eight of their previous matches against USA, with their past three wins coming by an average margin of 30 points.
– The Pumas have won their last 12 World Cup matches against non-tier one opposition, their last such defeat coming in 1995 against Samoa.
– USA conceded seven tries against England and five against France, they have not conceded four or more tries in three consecutive World Cup games since doing so in eight straight games between 1987 and 1999.
– Cam Dolan is set to win his 50th cap for USA. He has 16 tries for the Eagles, only three players have more (Vaea Anitoni, 26; Taufete’e, 20; Paul Emerick 17).
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta