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Australia and Argentina looking to rub salt in fresh wounds ahead of World Cup

13 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Australia and Argentina looking to rub salt in fresh wounds ahead of World Cup

Wallabies and Pumas must ensure normal service does not resume after leaving New Zealand and South Africa reeling last weekend

Both Australia and Argentina could be forgiven for wishing that the Rugby World Cup would hurry up and start already.

Following the Wallabies’ first Rugby Championship win in four years and the Pumas’ maiden victory over South Africa last weekend, both sides would probably prefer to head into the tournament on the back of such highs rather than renew rivalries with opponents that they faced just six days ago.

Yet the World Cup is of course the main priority, and having waited four long years for it to come around these final warm-up matches offer one last chance to hit the ground running in September.

New Zealand v Australia (08:35 GMT)

If Australia are to prolong that feel-good factor before boarding their flight to England then they will have to overcome the most fearsome home record in international rugby.

New Zealand have not lost at Eden Park since 1994, with 15 of their 33 Test wins during that time coming against the Wallabies.

What is more, they are out for revenge with Steve Hansen giving 12 of the 15 starters who lost 27-19 in Sydney last time out the chance to make immediate amends.

9/2 – New Zealand to win by 6-10 points

Australia meanwhile make six changes to the side that recorded a first win over the All Blacks in ten attempts, the most notable of which comes with Quade Cooper being recalled at fly-half.

The controversial Cooper does not have happy memories of Eden Park – the scene of his stinker in the 2011 World Cup semi-final and gruesome knee injury in the subsequent third-place play-off against Wales.

Yet with the number 10 shirt still very much up for grabs, the mercurial playmaker will relish the chance to stake his claim in the city of his birth against the country where he grew up until the age of 13, who still very much consider him to be public enemy number one.

These two countries have knocked each other out in the semi-finals of three of the last six World Cups.

And with another match-up in the knockout stages in October highly likely once again, both sides will be desperate to land the final blow before the gloves come off.

33/1 – Quade Cooper to score the first try

Argentina v South Africa (20:40 GMT)

South Africa’s 37-25 defeat to Argentina in Durban last weekend prompted Head Coach Keyneke Meyer to issue an apology to the entire nation.

The Springboks’ third straight loss in a shortened Rugby Championship saw the two-time World Champions finish bottom of the table, setting the alarm bells ringing before next month’s showpiece tournament.

Meyer has responded by making eight changes, five of which have been enforced by injury.

The returning Victor Matfield at second row, who will captain the side in winning his 123rd cap, should provide the rudder that the Boks badly missed last weekend.

The naming of an entirely new front row in Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss and Trevor Nyakane is also designed to shake things up in the face of recent Argentine dominance at scrum time.

6/1 – South Africa to win by 11-15 points

Meanwhile, most of the seven changes for the South Americans come in the back line, although winger Juan Imhoff is retained after his 43-minute hat-trick last time out.

Among those recalled are fly-half Nicolás Sánchez, flanker Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe and lock Benjamin Macome who boast more than 100 Test caps between them.

As proven by their first win over South Africa in 20 attempts, the Pumas now boast a fearsome bite having cut their teeth against the very best for some time now.

And with a South African side in disarray about to stagger into their own back yard in Buenos Aires, don’t be surprised if they make it two from two against the Boks on Saturday.

12/1 – Juan Imhoff to score the first try

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