Ireland v Argentina: live stream, kick off,Preview, head to head in focus: Five talking points ahead of Saturday’s clash

Ireland v Argentina in focus: Five talking points ahead of Saturday’s clash

 

Ireland host Argentina on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Action, in their final autumn series Test.

Here’s a look at some of the major talking points ahead of the exciting clash…

Revenge for 2015?

The last time the two sides met was the quarter-final of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in perhaps the most disappointing day in Joe Schmidt’s reign.

Minus captain Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony, Jared Payne and Johnny Sexton to injury, along with Sean O’Brien to suspension, Ireland were well beaten by the Pumas 43-20.

ireland-dejected

Having headed into the tournament as back-to-back Six Nations winners, Ireland had been labelled one of the World Cup favourites and the defeat is one which still grates on supporters and players alike.

It meant Ireland extended their woeful record in rugby’s premier competition of never having made it past the quarter-final stage.

Just eight of the men involved that day in Cardiff will line out in the Aviva on Saturday, while three of those who were forced to sit and watch in O’Mahony, Sexton and O’Brien starting.

argentina-celebrate-ireland-

Injuries to Robbie Henshaw and Keith Earls mean they miss out but Rory Best, Cian Healy, Iain Henderson, Conor Murray and Rob Kearney start again, while Devin Toner, Jack McGrath and Rhys Ruddock will likely feature off the bench.

Though they wouldn’t admit it publicly, you get the feeling this Test could be as personal as it gets for Schmidt and his players.

Argentina’s losing run

Argentina may have picked up a 31-15 victory in their last Test match against Italy in Florence, but they are on a lengthy run of defeats against sides ranked above them.

joaquin-tuculet-argentina

Indeed the Pumas have now lost 16 Tests in a row against sides ranked above them in world rugby, and with Argentina currently ninth in the world, that includes all Tier-1 nations apart from Italy.

England, New Zealand and Australia have all beaten Argentina four times in a row, while South Africa have won twice in addition to victories for Scotland and Wales.

You have to go back to August 2016 for the last time Argentina picked up a win against a side above them: A 26-24 victory over the Springboks in Salta.

Since then Argentina have only beaten Japan, Georgia and Italy on the Test stage. Could Ireland be the game to snap them out of their losing run?

The Pumas have never won in Ireland in seven attempts but have inflicted a world of pain on the men in green in the past. A positive record of 3-1 for the South Americans at Rugby World Cups tells you all you need to know about the history between the pair.

Big day for Byrne

Among Schmidt’s starting XV he has sprung one major shock with the inclusion of uncapped Leinster winger Adam Byrne on the right wing.

Despite Andrew Conway’s try scoring performance against South Africa and man of the match display over Fiji, he begins among the replacements, while fellow wingers Darren Sweetnam and Dave Kearney are left out altogether.

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Powerful in the air and quick along the ground, Byrne was given his provincial debut by Schmidt back in December 2012 before a string of injuries stemmed his development.

Having been in and out of the Leinster team, the 23-year-old has shown flashes of brilliance mixed with defensive frailties over the last couple of seasons and will be under pressure to perform against the Pumas.

His inclusion means that every fit member of Schmidt’s November squad will have featured on at least one occasion.

All change in the row

In the second row, 21-year-old Leinster lock James Ryan replaces the experienced Devin Toner to start alongside Iain Henderson in a big show of faith.

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Toner has been a go-to man since the very beginning of Schmidt’s tenure, with his only high profile omission before now coming against England in March during the Six Nations when Donnacha Ryan and Henderson started together.

Like Conway, Toner starts on the bench, as no player within the Irish squad is called upon to start all three autumn Tests.

Having been an eye-catching U20 captain and achieved his first senior Irish cap before he had even appeared for Leinster, Ryan is rated extremely highly.

devin-toner-ireland

His impact off the bench against the Springboks was noteworthy and should they go well together, Henderson and Ryan could potentially form Ireland’s second row lineup for years to come.

How they fare at lineout time without the seasoned qualities and 6’11” frame of Toner will be fascinating to watch.

Physicality the key

Another key selection comes in Ireland’s midfield, where Robbie Henshaw’s hamstring strain hands Munster centre Chris Farrell a start in the 13 jersey.

Having only made his debut for Ireland against Fiji last time out, Farrell will look to strike an effective partnership with fellow one-cap international Bundee Aki, in a robust looking match-up.

chris-farrell-ireland

Physicality will be essential against the Pumas. Two years ago, Ireland lost the breakdown battle and were beaten up on the frontline, with the likes of backrow Pablo Matera almost animalistic.

Such aggression and physical dominance allowed Argentina’s backs to spring to life and hurt Ireland going forward.

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Forced to watch on that day, flankers O’Mahony and O’Brien are in from the start on Saturday and will look to dominate the breakdown and provide a platform for Ireland’s own backs and critical half-back pairing to flourish.

So often Test matches against Argentina become dogged and tight affairs. Whoever wins the physical battle will go a long way to clinching victory.

skysports-peter-omahony

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Chris Farrell,12 Bundee Aki,11 Jacob Stockdale,10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray; 1 Cian Healy, 2 Rory Best, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 James Ryan, 5 Iain Henderson, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 7 Sean O’Brien, 8 CJ Stander.

Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Andrew Conway.

Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo; 1 Santiago Garcia Botta, 2 Agustin Creevy (c), 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 4 Matias Alemanno, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 6 Pablo Matera, 7 Marcos Kremer, 8 Tomas Lezana.

Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 23 Sebastian Cancelliere.

 

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