As we approach the second half of the Rugby Championship 2022 and the race for the title intensifies, Argentina still lead the way from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Los Pumas’ first-ever win over the All Blacks in New Zealand last weekend keeps them out in front on points difference from Australia.
With the Wallabies beating South Africa 25-17 in round three, both teams sit on nine points in the standings with the losing bonus point the All Blacks gained in defeat to Los Pumas lifting them up to third above bottom-of-the-table South Africa.
Argentina coach Michael Cheika has made four changes to his starting line-up, split evenly between forwards and backs, as Los Pumas bid for an unprecedented hat-trick of Rugby Championship wins.
Guido Petti and Santiago Grondona come into the pack while Tomás Cubelli and Santiago Cordero are the two changes to the backline.
Los 23 Pumas que nos representarán en la cuarta fecha del #VisaMacroRugbyChampionship 🏆 ante los All Blacks.— Los Pumas (@lospumas) August 31, 2022
📆 Sábado 03/09
⏰ 04:05 h (hora argentina)
¡Vamos, Pumas! 🇦🇷#VamosLosPumas pic.twitter.com/l0fnwVwQM8
If successful for a second time against an unchanged New Zealand, Argentina will be the higher-ranked of the two – with the teams in fifth and sixth place respectively – once the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini are officially updated at 12 noon on Monday.
A win by over 15 points for Argentina will see them climb to fourth for the first time since Rugby World Cup 2015 if Australia are similarly emphatic winners against South Africa.
Sixth place would represent a new low for New Zealand who could actually fall one place further if they lose by more than 15 points and Australia beat the Springboks in Sydney, which is something they have become accustomed to doing in recent years.
Springboks aim to set the record straight in Sydney
The Springboks have never beaten Australia in Sydney in the Tri-Nations/Rugby Championship era, with their last victory there back in 1993.
South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber has made eight personnel and one positional change to his starting line-up in a bid to revive his team’s fortunes. The influential trio of Handré Pollard, Lukhanyo Am and Pieter-Steph du Toit are all unavailable due to knee injuries.
As Elton Jantjies is also sidelined with injury, Damian Willemse will shift from full-back to start his first test at fly-half.
Elsewhere, teenager Canan Moodie will make his test debut on the right wing in a back three featuring Makazole Mapimpi and Willie le Roux.
Australia coach Dave Rennie has kept faith with the same starting line-up that beat the Springboks in Adelaide.
The Wallabies can only improve on sixth place if they win by over 15 points and New Zealand are beaten at home by Los Pumas.
For South Africa, there aren’t enough rating points on offer for a rare win on Australian soil for them to replace France in second place. A fall of one or two places is possible in defeat, though.