Rugby

Pumas put tragedy aside ahead of Scotland clash

2018-11-23 07:18
Marcos Kremer (Getty Images)
Marcos Kremer (Getty Images)

Edinburgh - Argentina have insisted they will be fully focused on the task at hand when they face Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday despite the death of forward Marcos Kremer's partner this week.

The Pumas will be without lock-cum-flank Kremer, whose 23-year-old partner, Sofia Pozzi, died of leukaemia on Monday. He had flown home from the Irish leg of Argentina's European tour when her condition suddenly deteriorated a fortnight ago.

"We are a very close group so it was a difficult moment for the whole team," said Argentina wing Sebastian Cancelliere, who will be on bench duty in Edinburgh.

"When we go back we're going to be very close to Marcos, but we are not going to use that as an excuse or extra motivation for this match," he added.

Argentina have all the incentive they need in wanting to end a four-match losing streak - and to make amends for the 44-15 hammering they suffered against a below-strength Scotland side in Resistencia in June. 

That dispiriting defeat led to the departure of coach Daniel Hourcade and the appointment of former Pumas hooker Mario Ledesma, who proceeded to guide Argentina to notable wins against South Africa at home and Australia away in the Rugby Championship.

It seems, though, that Ledesma's charges have yet to fully recover from their dramatic second-half collapse against Australia in Salta on October 6.

Leading the Wallabies 31-7 at half-time, they slumped to a 45-34 defeat and on the first two legs of their European tour they lost to Ireland in Dublin (28-17) and to France in Lille (28-13).

Ledesma has made three changes to his run-on XV to face the Scots, Matias Moroni coming in at outside centre, Rodrigo Bruni starting at openside flanker and Guido Petti shifting from the back row to lock.

Scotland have won the last four encounters between the countries and coach Gregor Townsend has made eight changes of personnel and two positional alterations to the team beaten 26-20 by South Africa last week.

Most intriguing of all is Finn Russell's shift to inside centre for the first time, with Adam Hastings coming into the side at outside half.

Hastings, the son of former Scotland captain Gavin Hastings, was outstanding in the pivotal No 10 role in Resistencia and Townsend knows from personal experience about maverick fly-halves playing in the centres, having won 26 of his 82 Scotland caps there.

"I see the roles of No 10 and No 12 being more to facilitate," said Townsend. "For me, their first role from an attacking point of view is to make sure they are putting others in space. To have two players do that in the first-receiver or second-receiver position has a lot of potential."

Stuart Hogg has been passed fit to continue in the Scotland No 15 shirt after recovering from an ankle knock that forced him out of action midway through the second half of last Saturday's loss to the Springboks.

The Glasgow fullback is one of only six survivors from the Scotland XV that ran in six tries past the Pumas in June and he is expecting a sterner test on home ground.

"Argentina have got some terrific individual players and play well collectively," said Hogg, who moves to English side Exeter at the end of the season. 

"They've had a couple of cracking wins in the Rugby Championship, so we are fully aware of the challenges which are going to be coming our way."

Teams:

Scotland

15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Finn Russell, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Allan Dell

Substitutes: 16 Stuart McInally 17 Alex Allan, 18 WP Nel, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 George Horne, 22 Alex Dunbar, 23 Byron McGuigan

Argentina

15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Rodrigo Bruni, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Augustin Creevy, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta

Substitutes: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Matias Orlando, 23 Sebastián Cancelliere

Read more on:    argentina  |  scotland  |  rugby

 

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