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‘This is why you play’: Pumas embracing must-win World Cup stakes

By Finn Morton
The players of Argentina celebrate victory at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Argentina and Samoa at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on September 22, 2023 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

In the lead-up to Argentina’s date with destiny at the Rugby World Cup, veteran Agustin Creevy rather aptly labelled Sunday’s must-win clash with Japan as a “round of 16 decider” earlier this week.

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If Argentina beat the Brave Blossoms in Nantes they will book their spot in the quarterfinals for the first time in eight years. But a loss would bring a disastrous end to their campaign.

Los Pumas will need to overcome an equally desperate Brave Blossoms outfit in order to progress to the knockout stage of the competition.

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Argentina opened their World Cup campaign with a disastrous 27-10 defeat to a 14-man England outfit in Marseille, and the southern hemisphere heavyweights have been in survival mode ever since.

Wins over Samoa and Chile saw the Argentines hang onto hope for another couple of weeks, but it’s all been building to this. Their tournament-defining Test awaits.

“This is why you play rugby; if you want it easy and for the script to be written, don’t worry about coming,” head coach Michael Cheika told reporters on Friday.

“In international rugby, you don’t always have games where everything is at stake. We have been doing it since the game against England.

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“There was talk about players who will have their first experience in matches of such importance. This is where you learn, you gain experience. They already got experience with the first important match with England where they did not deliver; I feel very good handling that knock-out mentality that we have had since then.”

Japan kicked off their quest for the quarterfinals on a promising note with the Brave Blossoms recording an emphatic 42-12 win over World Cup newbies Chile.

But Jamie Joseph’s team were handed a wakeup call against the English a week later. England ran riot as they secured a bonus-point win in Nice.

For Japan – just like Argentina – their World Cup fate became a matter of week-to-week survival. Japan snuck past a valiant Samoa outfit which set up a titanic showdown in the final round.

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“I have experience with the country and with the team, with their mentality. It is a very disciplined team, like the country. They know what they want to do strategically as a team in each game,” Cheika continued when asked about the Brave Blossoms.

Head-to-Head

Last 2 Meetings

Wins
0
Draws
0
Wins
2
Average Points scored
24
47
First try wins
100%
Home team wins
0%

“We know that they were in the quarter-finals in the last World Cup and not us, so we want to change this situation.”

“We know the opponent, but it is more our game and how we can put them in difficulty and take points when we put that pressure on. In our preparation, we have analysed Japan, but more (we have worked) on how to put pressure on them.”

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Comments

1 Comment
F
Francisco 260 days ago

Obtaining a good achievement of cohesion is imperative today for Argentina. That is the main reason for the starting XV that Michael Cheika has named: to maintain the routine, so that everything changes. Despite this, Los Pumas' metrics are not in their best shape, mainly those of attack. Matches are won with points scored and points not conceded and in that tension the performance of Argentina is debated today, with point differences of +46. Strengths in RWC223...? The lineout, the scrum and the maul, while discipline remains their worst enemy.

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