Free Picks: Australia vs. Argentina 2013 Rugby Championship

Richard O'Hagan

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 8:51 PM GMT

Can Australia finally win a Rugby Championship point in their final home game? Or will the Pumas continue their improvement to notch up their first ever win in the contest?

Don't forget to check out our New Zealand vs. South Africa match report, part of Round 4 of the 2013 Rugby Championship!

Last weekend was the shock round of the 2013 Rugby Championship tournament. The results may well have been expected by some – not least of them in this column – but the manner of them was not. Now the two defeated sides meet in a match which suddenly has a lot more than pride at stake.

Australia went into their match with South Africa last weekend hopeful of breaking their duck in this year’s competition. It all went horribly wrong. Whilst they competed well until ten minutes of the second half, a collective meltdown coupled with the sin-binning of flanker Michael Hooper saw them lose to South Africa at home for the first time in the competition, whilst failing to even score a bonus point.

Meanwhile, the Argentinians were taking on the mighty All Blacks over in windswept Hamilton, New Zealand. After conceding almost a hundred points to South Africa in their two games, including 73 in the away leg, many expected a rout at the hands of the world champions. It was not to be. New Zealand were taken aback by the ferocity of the Pumas’ defence as Argentina finally found the form that took them as high as fourth in the world only a few years ago.

Winning this game is going to be a tough task for the Pumas. They haven’t won in Australia since 1983, and haven’t beaten the Wallabies anywhere since a 1997 victory in Buenos Aires. However, after such a shockingly poor start to the 2013 Championship, they go into this game with very real hopes of victory.

Their pack, which performed so well in Hamilton, will be largely unchanged. The only alteration sees Eusebio Guinazo, who started that game at hooker, drop to the bench in favour of Agustin Creevy. That is no bad move by coach Graham Henry, as Guinazo’s ill discipline saw him sin binned against the All Blacks, a cardinal offence against a side that strong.

In the back line, they bring in veteran Felipe Contempomi at centre, which is a surprising selection as -whilst he certainly adds big game experience to the side- he also slows down the three quarter line. Australia have been very vulnerable against the speedy backs fielded by South Africa and New Zealand, so this is very definitely an odd move by Henry.

Australia coach Ewen McKenzie will try to keep his side under wraps at the last possible moment. It is inevitable, though, that he will make changes after Australia’s third consecutive defeat. For example, how long can he persist with playing Christian Leali’fano for his goalkicking abilities when the centre’s defence is so poor?

This game is, therefore, one of the most intriguing ones of the Championship so far; by which we mean not just this year, but since its very inception. Australia have not won a point so far, Argentina have one by virtue of their bonus point defeat to South Africa in Round Two. It is also the battle for the wooden spoon. But more importantly, it could see Argentina’s first win of the competition, ever.

The market makes them a long shot to do this, best priced at 9/2 sports betting odds with BetVictor. There is no rational basis, though, for Australia to be as short as the 1/4 betting odds that Sportingbet have them priced at. Their form this year simply does not justify it and Los Pumas look like a side running into form. Back the visitors in your rugby picks, for a historic win.

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