Rugby Championship Betting: Argentina v New Zealand
Argentina have put in some great performances throughout the Rugby Championship but they continue to play 70-minute rugby and that won't be good enough against New Zealand, says Geoffrey Riddle
"In 2001 the All Blacks came away from Argentina with a 24-20 success and only won 25-19 in 2006. Both times they had to work hard after the break to overturn a half-time deficit and it wouldn't be the most ridiculous outcome if that happened once again."
Argentina v New Zealand
• Argentina host the All Blacks in the 53,000 capacity Estadio Cuidad de La Plata, which is sold out for the first New Zealand visit to South America since 2006.
• The stadium, more popularly known as Estadio Unico, is home to Estudiantes. The Pumas have never played a Test there.
• New Zealand have made four changes to the side that struggled to break down Argentina in Wellington. Dan Carter returns at flyhalf, while Andrew Hore, Liam Messam and Sam Whitelock beef up the pack.
• As a result, Argentina are outgunned by an average of 2kg per man up front.
• Argentina have made two changes to the side that lost 21-5 in New Zealand with the Argentina-based Martin Landajo coming in at scrum half and Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino of Montpellier at fullback.
• New Zealand are chasing their 15th consecutive success and have not lost since they were downed by Australia 25-20 last season.
Argentina have showed over the course of the inaugural Rugby Championship that they have the capability to beat any team in the world. Los Pumas forced a draw against South Africa and led Australia up until the 68th minute a fortnight ago.
Santiago Phelan's proud squad have been an inspiration in their maiden attempt to stand toe-to-toe with the Southern Hemisphere superpowers but so beguiling have their dedicated efforts become that the bubble looks to have burst.
Argentina receive a handicap on Betfair that suggests they are ever so slightly better than they are. The home side get a 13.5-point start on the betting exchange, which in my book really should be 16.5. Of course, there are precedents of teams about as good as Argentina beating teams as good as New Zealand at home.
Scotland beating Australia 9-8 at Murrayfield during the 2009 autumn internationals springs to mind, as does Italy's chest-beating victory over France during the 2011 Six Nations. On the whole, however, teams like Argentina lose by an average of 16-17 points.
As explained in my preview the last time Argentina clashed with New Zealand, the presence of Graham Henry as an advisor to the Pumas was a crucial aspect - it still is. Dan Carter, however, was not playing in Wellington, where Henry's crib-sheets aided Argentina enormously. But knowing how to stop Carter bringing in his devastating runners and actually doing it are two very different things. Carter knows how to probe defences and such is his skill set that he can virtually resort to any method to unpick teams.
Argentina conceded 13 points to Australia in the final quarter a fortnight ago when they went down 23-19 and they continue to play 70-minute rugby by their own admission.
The home side can take heart from the fact that New Zealand's two most recent visits to Argentina resulted in narrow victories. In 2001 the All Blacks came away with a 24-20 success and only won 25-19 in 2006. Both times they had to work hard after the break to overturn a half-time deficit and it wouldn't be the most ridiculous outcome if that happened once again.