Rugby Union


All Blacks tip Pumas upset

BUENOS AIRES: The triumphant All Blacks believe the wounded Wallabies will be ripe for the picking in Rosario if Argentina play with the same adventure that backfired against them on the weekend.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen urged the Pumas to continue with their expansive, attacking approach as they try to score a maiden Rugby Championship win over Australia in their final-round match on Saturday.

Argentina were blown out of the water 54-15 as the all-conquering All Blacks notched up a 15th straight Test win. However, the Pumas rattled the world champions early by keeping the ball in hand and playing with width.

Also, injury-riddled Australia arrived in Argentina late on Sunday following a long plane ride from South Africa where they were thumped 31-8.

While Boks coach Heyneke Meyer predicted the Wallabies were facing an ambush, Hansen said the Pumas' biggest challenge was backing their attacking instincts and keeping their confidence.

Argentina did lead Australia 19-6 midway through their previous match on the Gold Coast and the Wallabies have since lost Berrick Barnes (lung), Adam Ashley-Cooper (concussion) and Quade Cooper (knee). They also have Radike Samo (shoulder), Digby Ioane (knee) and Tatafu Polota-Nau (head, shoulder) in doubt.


''I think they will be playing an Australian side that will be looking at itself a wee bit and when that happens you have to question how much confidence the Australians will come with,'' Hansen said.

''The big question is how much the Pumas react to [the All Blacks loss]. I thought they played pretty well but [on] the scoreboard they didn't.

''I think if they can master that mentally … they have a real show of beating Australia here. They showed they were good enough to beat them in Australia.''

New Zealand No.8 Kieran Read agreed that the final match in Rosario was the fired-up Pumas' best chance for success.

''They definitely played a lot with the ball [in La Plata] and I think if they continue to do what they're doing then they will get there at some point, and I think they're as good a chance as any next week,'' he said.

While the All Blacks (21 points) will be hoping to edge to within one victory of their record 17-match winning streak when they face the Springboks (12) in Johannesburg, the Wallabies (8) can still finish second with a big win over the Pumas (3).

Equally, the Wallabies could also still finish equal last on the points table if the Pumas score a bonus-point win.

Australia have added Queensland Reds utility back Luke Morahan, who is in line to start at fullback, and Melbourne Rebels second-rower Cadeyrn Neville to their bruised and battered squad.

Meanwhile, the Springboks believe they have shifted from bunker mode to a place of security after their victory over Australia on Saturday.

''We are developing as a side. It's great to have a victory like this [against Australia] to put us on the front foot,'' Springboks back-rower Francois Louw said.

''You want to take that front-foot confidence into every training session and then the All Blacks.

''It's been an up and down Rugby Championship. One win against Argentina and a draw, two losses on tour, it wasn't the entry to the tournament we wanted. Those losses can make you stronger. We have learnt from them.''

AAP, Fairfax NZ