Argentina v South Africa: Five Key Clashes
Following losses in last weekend’s semi-finals, the attention has now moved to Argentina and South Africa’s clash at the Olympic Stadium this evening in the third-place playoff.
Here are five key duels that we think could decide the outcome of the game:
The fly-halves are the heartbeat of these two sides. Sanchez, who Captains the Pumas tonight, is impeccable from the tee, which is proven by the fact he leads the scoring charts at this year’s RWC with 89 points.
Beating out the likes of Pat Lambie, Handre Pollard, who is still only 21, has come on leaps and bounds during the competition, especially following the criticism he received for his part in the Springboks finishing bottom of the Rugby Championship back in August. He also has like Sanchez impressed from the tee, scoring 79 points.
While there will be many fascinating conflicts right across the pitch during the third place play-off, none will be more intriguing in this one.
Tomas Lavanini v Victor Matfield
Pumas second-row Tomas Lavanini comes up against a formidable opponent in Victor Matfield, who will be winning his 127th and last Test Cap for the Springboks.
Matfield, who will Captain South Africa, first retired after the 2011 World Cup before returning to action in 2014, but said before this World Cup that he was definitely quitting international rugby for good at the end of the tournament.
The far less experienced 22-year-old Lavanini may learn a trick or two tonight as he battles to try and establish himself in the game.
Tomas Cubelli v Ruan Pienaar
The two scrum-halves both have the x-factor though at the same time they again are very different players. Ruan Pienaar will keep South Africa ticking over with his controlled way of doing things while Tomas Cubelli is more of a maverick, playing with an unpredictable style.
The two influential playmakers will play a huge role in how the game goes and it’s safe to say this will be another great individual contest.
Santiago Cordero v JP Pietersen
These two wingers add a touch of flair to their respective nations. Cordero, who is still only 21, has been outstanding for the Pumas with his dynamic running and top class footwork. His efforts have seen him make 454 metres, which is the highest of anyone during the RWC.
The more experienced Pietersen has somewhat played second fiddle to Bryan Habana, however, at times during the tournament has shown the individual brilliance he is capable of, showing exactly why he has a Rugby World Cup winners medal in his collection.
Pietersen has scored four tries, which includes a hat-trick of scores against Samoa. This means the Bok is above Cordero in the try-scoring charts, having crossed the whitewash once more than his opposite number. These two are a huge reason why tonight should be an entertaining game.
Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe v Schalk Burger
With Argentina forced into making nine changes they will have turn to their superstars, such as their powerhouse Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe for inspiration. The Toulon back-rower however comes up against a formidable opponent in Schalk Burger, who will be winning his 86th and possibly last Cap for the Springboks.
Burger has been in fantastic form during the competition. The flanker has made the most carries at this Rugby World Cup (88), the second most tackles (68) and the third most offloads (8).
This physical battle could very well be the highlight of the night.