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Image: Victor R. Caivano/AP/Press Association Images

Pumas feel they have what it takes to spring a surprise against the Aussies

After 3 seasons of competing in the southern hemisphere championship, Argentina are still to win a game.
Sep 12th 2014, 11:41 AM 1,408 1

Argentina skipper Agustin Creevy said Friday the Pumas are ready to pounce on the Wallabies and win their first Rugby Championship Test on the Gold Coast on Saturday.

After three seasons and 15 matches, with only one draw to show for their time in the four-nation southern hemisphere series, the Pumas believe they are poised to upset the Australians.

Creevy said his team had learned from their defeats against powerhouses New Zealand and South Africa this season and are on the cusp of a historic performance.

We have had a lot of chances to win. Every match we can win, but tomorrow is a special day for us.”

The Wallabies have lost four times in 21 encounters with Argentina, but only once at home — 31 years ago when they fell 18-3 in Brisbane.

The Pumas are looking to their formidable forward pack, renowned for their scrummaging, to end their Rugby Championship drought.

Argentina looked set to break through last month when they led South Africa 28-16 with 21 minutes left in Salta but faded to go down 33-31.

It was the same story on the Gold Coast two years ago, up 19-9 with 20 minutes to go before losing 23-19, while Argentina failed to convert forward dominance in driving rain last season in Perth, when Australia held on to win 14-13.

 Respect for Wallabies

Creevy said he has huge respect for the Wallabies, rating them even better now than when they blitzed his side 54-17 in Rosario last year, but claims his improved Pumas are far more confident and composed.

Argentina South Africa Rugby Championship Argentina captain Agustin Creevy, seen here tackling Frans Malherbe of South Africa, thinks the Pumas can secure an historic victory this weekend. Source: Victor R. Caivano/AP/Press Association Images

“We have grown up a lot and have confidence in our side,” he said.

“We have to have an excellent match for 80 minutes and concentrate for 80 minutes.”

The scrum battle between the front-rows, particularly at hooker where the returning Tatafu Polota-Nau goes head to head with Creevy, will be pivotal to the outcome.

Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper has predicted a high-tempo attacking game if forecast rain stays away, but he knows the home side also has to cope with the Pumas’ game of quick, short off-loads close to the ruck.

Hooper pointed to Polota-Nau, celebrating his 50th Test cap, as the man to fill the injured number eight Wycliff Palu’s role and lead the way in his return from a knee injury.

“Taf, like Cliff, is always able to make game changing plays, big tackles and great runs,” Hooper said.

“He’s really stepped up as a scrum leader (this week), and has definitely dominated the scrum and given it direction.”

Italy Australia Test Rugby Aussie coach Ewen McKenzie saw his side pick up a narrow victory over the Springboks last weekend. Source: Massimo Pinca/AP/Press Association Images

The Wallabies squeaked home 24-23 with a last-gasp converted try over the Springboks in Perth last weekend and will be looking for a more clinical performance against the 12th-ranked Pumas.

“We’ve got some really good players to put pressure on (the Pumas) but they’ve defended well in their three games to date,” coach Ewen McKenzie said.

“You’re going to have to be accurate, that’s the one thing we want to improve from last week (against South Africa), it’s being a bit more clinical.

“There are subtle differences week to week but we’ve got a core game that works and everyone trusts, we just have to make sure we execute it a bit better.”

All Black captain Richie McCaw expects ‘hard day out’ against the Springboks on Saturday

Heaslip raring to go after ‘longest ever’ pre-season

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AFP

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