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Test Match Preview: Ireland v Argentina

Test Match Preview: Ireland v Argentina

Ireland will aim to end the GUINNESS Series 2008 on a high on Saturday afternoon when Argentina visit Croke Park for the first time, and with IRB World Ranking points on the line there is an added incentive for both sides.

GUINNESS SERIES 2008: Saturday, November 22

IRELAND v ARGENTINA, Croke Park, 2.45pm (live RTE Two/BBC One)

Click here for our O2 MatchDay Live Service

Team News: Ireland head coach Declan Kidney has made three changes to the starting line-up for the final encounter of the GUINNESS Series 2008 against Argentina at Croke Park.

Full-back Geordan Murphy, hooker Jerry Flannery and back rower Stephen Ferris are the three changes to the Ireland team to take on the Pumas.

Murphy comes into the side in place of Girvan Dempsey and Flannery takes over from Rory Best in the front row.

Ferris returns to blindside flanker after starting in that position against Canada and coming on as a replacement last weekend against New Zealand.

In the forward replacements, Malcolm O’Kelly, who remains Ireland’s most-capped player, is named as cover for second row.

Following the unsuccessful appeal against Alan Quinlan’s three-week suspension for stamping, which rules him out of the Ireland squad for the game against Argentina, Munster’s Donnacha Ryan has been included among the replacements as back row cover.

Meanwhile, for Argentina’s first visit to Croke Park, head coach Santiago Phelan has made four changes in personnel to the team that started last weekend’s 22-14 victory over Italy.

Full-back Horacio Agulla, winger Francisco Leonelli, centre Miguel Avramovic and number 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamon all come into the side, with Bernardo Stortoni, Gonzalo Tiesi, the injured Felipe Contepomi and Esteban Lozada making way.

There are a number of positional switches also. Federico Martin Aramburu moves from the right wing to partner Avramovic at centre, Rimas Alvarez Kairelis reverts from the back row to the second row and team captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe shifts from number 8 to openside flanker.

The Pumas team includes 14 European-based players, eleven of whom play their club rugby in France.

Blindside flanker Martin Durand is the only home-based player to get a start. He is affiliated to the Champagnat club in Buenos Aires.

Despite losing both Rafael Carballo and Rodrigo Roncero to yellow cards in Turin last Saturday, Argentina still pulled through to beat the Italians and record their first win of a three-match European tour.

Phelan’s men lost 12-6 to France in Marseille the previous Saturday.

IRELAND: Geordan Murphy (Leicester Tigers); Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) (capt), Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster), Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster); Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster), Tomas O’Leary (Dolphin/Munster); Marcus Horan (Shannon/Munster), Jerry Flannery (Shannon/Munster), John Hayes (Bruff/Munster), Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster), Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster), Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster), David Wallace (Garryowen/Munster), Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster).

Replacements: Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), Tony Buckley (Shannon/Munster), Malcolm O’Kelly (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster), Eoin Reddan (London Wasps), Paddy Wallace (Ballymena/Ulster), Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster).

ARGENTINA: Horacio Agulla (Brive); Francisco Leonelli (Saracens), Federico Martin Aramburu (Dax), Miguel Avramovic (Montauban), Rafael Carballo (Castres Olympique); Juan Martin Hernandez (Stade Francais), Nicolas Vergallo (Dax); Rodrigo Roncero (Stade Francais), Mario Ledesma (Clermont Auvergne), Juan Pablo Orlandi (Rovigo), Rimas Alvarez Kairelis (Perpignan), Patricio Albacete (Toulouse), Martin Durand (Champagnat), Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (Sale Sharks) (capt), Juan Manuel Leguizamon (Stade Francais).

Replacements: Alberto Vernet Basualdo (Toulouse), Marcos Ayerza (Leicester Tigers), Esteban Lozada (Toulon), Alvaro Galindo (Racing Metro), Agustin Figuerola (CASI), Santiago Fernandez (Hindu), Bernardo Stortoni (Glasgow Warriors).

Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)
Touch Judges: Mark Lawrence (South Africa), Rob Debney (England)
Television Match Official: Graham Hughes (England)
Assessor: Steve Hilditch (Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland to win: 4/9; Draw: 20/1; Argentina to win: 7/4

Pre-Match Quotes: Declan Kidney (Ireland) – “It’s going to be very physical. It’s an unusual situation in that there’s so much to play for – the ramifications for them to stay in the top four (of the rankings), the ramifications for us for not getting a result.

“They can get drop goals if you let them inside your half, they can pick off points like that. They do have a way of keeping the scoreboard ticking along. They have a strong set piece.

“You don’t get to be ranked fourth by having a bad side. I was also interested looking at the South Africa match during the summer.

“After 30 minutes they were 9-0 up. Two months off with not a whole lot of pre-season under their belt but they showed what they can do.

“Every time you played them there was always something on the line over the last number of years .

“History is history…you have to see ten matches. It’s five-all and they have won the last three. We just have to concentrate on our game.”

Santiago Phelan (Argentina) – “We try not to think about the ranking and the World Cup because if you do you start to forget about what you have to do in the game.

“That is the focus. That must be a consequence of what we do in the field. If we have a good game perhaps we will have a better ranking.

“A lot of our other players have played many times against the Irish. We know them. We know they are a very good team, very good players.

“We also know them as our players play against them in the Heineken Cup over the years. We expect a difficult game, a very tough game.”

Click here for our pre-match multimedia.

Recent Form – Ireland – 2007/08: Rugby World Cup Warm-Up: Scotland 31 Ireland 21; Rugby World Cup Warm-Up: Ireland 23 Italy 20; Rugby World Cup Pool D: Ireland 32 Namibia 17; Rugby World Cup Pool D: Ireland 14 Georgia 10; Rugby World Cup Pool D: France 25 Ireland 3; Rugby World Cup Pool D: Ireland 15 Argentina 30; Six Nations: Ireland 16 Italy 11; Six Nations: France 26 Ireland 21; Six Nations: Ireland 34 Scotland 13; Six Nations: Ireland 12 Wales 16; Six Nations: England 33 Ireland 10; Summer Tour: New Zealand 21 Ireland 11; Summer Tour: Australia 18 Ireland 12; 2008/09: Autumn Test: Ireland 55 Canada 0; Autumn Test: Ireland 3 New Zealand 22

Argentina – 2007/08: Rugby World Cup Warm-Up: Wales 27 Argentina 20; Rugby World Cup Pool D: France 12 Argentina 17; Rugby World Cup Pool D: Argentina 33 Georgia 3; Rugby World Cup Pool D: Argentina 63 Namibia 3; Rugby World Cup Pool D: Ireland 15 Argentina 30; Rugby World Cup Quarter-Final: Argentina 19 Scotland 13; Rugby World Cup Semi-Final: South Africa 37 Argentina 13; Rugby World Cup Bronze Final: France 10 Argentina 34; Summer Tour: Argentina 21 Scotland 15; Summer Tour: Argentina 14 Scotland 26; 2008/09: Summer Tour: South Africa 63 Argentina 9; Autumn Test: France 12 Argentina 6; Autumn Test: Italy 14 Argentina 22

Previous Meetings: 10

2007: Argentina 22 Ireland 20, Club Atletico Colon, Santa Fe; Argentina 16 Ireland 0, Velez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires; Ireland 15 Argentina 30, Parc des Princes, Paris 
2004: Ireland 21 Argentina 19, Lansdowne Road 
2003: Argentina 15 Ireland 16, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide 
2002: Ireland 16 Argentina 7, Lansdowne Road 
2000: Argentina 34 Ireland 23, Ferrocaril Oeste, Buenos Aires 
1999: Argentina 28 Ireland 24, Stade Felix Bollaert, Lens; Ireland 32 Argentina 24, Lansdowne Road 
1990: Ireland 20 Argentina 18, Lansdowne Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ireland to win by less than 7 points