Argentina tweak bench for vital Tri Nations Test against Wallabies

Tri Nations
by Christy Doran

Mario Ledesma has kept faith with the team that beat the All Blacks for the first time last weekend by naming an unchanged starting lineup for their crucial Tri Nations Test against the Wallabies on Saturday night in Newcastle.

But the former Wallabies scrum coach, who has Michael Cheika as his right-hand man for the tournament, has added some fire power to his bench with Santiago Socino, Facundo Isa and Emiliano Boffelli named after proving their fitness.

The Pumas shocked the world by knocking off the All Blacks 25-15 in Parramatta. 

WATCH THE WALLABIES TAKE ON THE PUMAS IN NEWCASTLE, NOV 21. TICKETS HERE

It was their first Test in 402 days and for a large number of the squad it was their first professional match since March after COVID-19 forced SANZAAR officials to suspend the regular 2020 Super Rugby season.

But despite the bruising encounter and emotion surrounding the victory, Ledesma backed his side's recovery methods to get them in shape to go again.

"Well, we worked a lot on being fresh during the week," Ledesma told reporters on Thursday in Sydney.

"We spoke in the first couple of days of changing (the team) or not. (It wasn't because) of form, which was obviously good on the weekend, but recovery and seeing how the boys were feeling, and we decided that we'd give them a go again on the weekend."

Ledesma has, however, tweaked his bench.

Of note, he's regained destructive back-rower Facundo Isa as well as the elusive and versatile back Emiliano Boffelli.

Ledesma said he was hopeful that their experience would give Los Pumas an added boost in the second half.

"We changed a couple on the bench, we recovered a couple of players that were injured - Isa, Boffelli and Santiago Socino- and we're counting on them to have a big impact. They're experienced players and they've played these type of games before."

Like Argentina, the Wallabies are also coming off a last-start win against the All Blacks and Ledesma said his side needed to control the tempo of the match to mitigate their opponents threats.

"I think it's a very balanced team," Ledesma said.

"It's been a couple of years already where they've had an improving set-piece - lineout, driving maul, scrum - and obviously offensive threats in the likes of (Hunter) Paisami or (Jordan) Petaia or Marika Koroibete. The treats are coming from many different places and we've got to be spot on with our game plan and our kicking game and control the tempo of the game." 

READ MORE

'I WANT TO CHANGE THAT': The shift the Wallabies must make to win trophies

THE BRICK WALL TACTICS THE PUMAS USED TO UNSETTLE ALL BLACKS: 5 things we learnt from epic Tri Nations win

'THAT MADE US BELIEVE A LOT MORE': How Cheika helped Los Pumas make history by beating All Blacks

The match will be the first time that Cheika - who coached the Wallabies for the previous five years - comes up against his old side.

Asked how he would be feeling 48 hours from the Test, Ledesma, who was Cheika's scrum coach when the Wallabies beat the Pumas in the semi-final of the 2015 World Cup, said his assistant and long-time friend would be feeling somewhat torn but added that he would never lose of where he's from.

"I was in his place a few years ago and it's never easy," the Argentine great said.

"He's a very proud Australian and he's not going to change." 

PUMAS (1-15): Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Julian Montoya, Francisco Gomez Kodela, Guido Petti, Matias Alemanni, Pablo Matera (c), Marcos Kremer, Rodrigo Bruni, Tomas Cubelli, Nicolas Sanchez, Juan Imhoff, Santiago Chocobares, Matias Orlando, Bautista Delguy, Santiago Carreras

RESERVES: Santiago Socino, Mayco Vivas, Santiago Medrano, Santiago Grondona, Facundo Isa, Gonzalo Bertranou, Emiliano Boffelli, Santiago Cordero

WALLABIES (1-15): Scott Sio, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Matt Philip, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper (c), Harry Wilson, Nic White, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Tom Wright, Tom Banks

RESERVES: Folau Fainga'a, Angus Bell, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Valetini, Liam Wright, Jake Gordon, Noah Lolesio, Filipo Daugunu