It’ll be a case of Seconds Out (and stay out), Round One of the 2003 RWC when host nation, the defending champions Australia, face up to Argentina this evening
It’ll be a case of Seconds Out (and stay out), Round One of the 2003 RWC when host nation, the defending champions, Australia face up to Argentina this evening in the 83,500 capacity Telstra Stadium in Sydney. And besides the tension that would normally be associated with a game of this importance, there is a ‘history’ between these two sides that will ensure that the fireworks of the pre-match hoopla will continue after referee Paul Honiss sounds the ‘chocs away’ bell.
In the past, contests between this pair have ended with accusations of foul play on the one hand (Australia) countered by claims of ‘whingeing’ on the other, so to say there is no love lost is putting it mildly. As early as today, Aussie skipper George Gregan talked of Argentina’s ‘confrontational style’, saying “they like to push the margin.” and it’s that sort of talk that will add to the tension of this opening game.
The battle of the halves, Gregan and Augustin Pichot could also have a huge bearing on the outcome of a game that may see the Pumas try to unhinge the Wallabies up front. Should the home side be allowed settle early on and subdue the Puma pack then they have the players like Mat Rogers, Joe Roff and Wendell Sailor who can inflict serious damage.
The smart money is on the Pumas ‘attacking’ the Wallaby set-piece, concentrating perhaps on the inexperienced Al Baxter. They’ve gone for Felipe Contepomi at 10 instead of the kicking machine, Gonzalo Quesada, but they’re unlikely to attempt to win this game by playing it wide and loose.
The opening minutes of this contest will define the rest of the game and the most important individual in the opening quarter will be the 40 year old New Zealand referee, Paul Honiss.
Australia. Mat Rogers, Wendell Sailor, Matthew Burke, Elton Flatley, Joe Roff; Stephen Larkham, George Gregan capt; Bill Young. Brendan Cannon, Alastair Baxter; David Giffin, Nathan Sharpe; George Smith, Phil Waugh, David Lyons.
Replacements: 16 Jeremy Paul, 17 Ben Darwin, 18 Daniel Vickerman, 19 Matt Cockbain, 20 Chris Whitaker, 21 Matt Giteau, 22 Lote Tuqiri.
Argentina. Ignacio Corleto; Josi Marma Nuqez Piossek, Manuel Contepomi, Josi Orengo, Diego Albanese; Felipe Contepomi, Agustmn Pichot capt: Roberto Grau, Mario Ledesma, Omar Hasan; Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, Patricio Albacete; Santiago Phelan, Rolando Martin, Gonzalo Longo.
Replacements: 16 Federico Mindez, 17 Mauricio Reggiardo, 18 Rimas Alvarez, 19 Martmn Durand, 20 Nicolas Fernandez Miranda, 21 Gonzalo Quesada, 22 Juan Martmn Hernandez.
Referee: Paul Honiss
Touch judges: Tony Spreadbury, Brett Bowden.