BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina will be unchanged against New Zealand in their Rugby Championship match in La Plata on Saturday, coach Santiago Phelan said as he picked the same side that lost to Australia.
“Our objective is to improve match by match. In defence the players are full of confidence, we’re getting better and as a consequence the results will follow,” Phelan told reporters after naming his team at their base 45km north of the capital.
“To play this tournament implies effort rather than pressure. I single out the valour, commitment, heart and passion of the team,” he added on Tuesday.
“Saturday’s goal will be to avoid the drain of the final minutes,” said Phelan, whose team were 13 points ahead of the Wallabies before conceding two tries in the final quarter as they lost 23-19 to Australia in the Gold Coast on September 15.
Phelan made two changes to his bench, bringing in prop Marcos Ayerza for Juan Pablo Orlandi and back row forward Tomas Vallejos for Leonardo Senatore.
The Pumas, hosting the match (2310 GMT) in the provincial capital La Plata 60km southeast of Buenos Aires, are looking to beat the world champion All Blacks for the first time and prevent them clinching the trophy with a match to spare.
New Zealand, who have won their four games so far, need one more victory to be sure of the title before their final match against South Africa in Johannesburg on October 6.
The Springboks face Australia in Pretoria this Saturday in their penultimate match.
Argentina have lost their three away matches in their first season in the new four-nation southern hemisphere championship, their first major annual competition, and secured a 16-16 draw at home to South Africa last month.
Team: 15-Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14-Gonzalo Camacho, 13-Marcelo Bosch, 12-Santiago Fernandez, 11-Horacio Agulla, 10-Juan Martin Hernandez, 9-Martin Landajo; 8-Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (captain), 7-Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6-Julio Farias Cabello, 5-Patricio Albacete, 4-Manuel Carizza, 3-Juan Figallo, 2-Eusebio Guinazu, 1-Rodrigo Roncero
Replacements: 16-Agustin Creevy, 17-Marcos Ayerza, 18-Tomas Vallejos, 19-Tomas Leonardi, 20-Nicolas Vergallo, 21-Martin Rodriguez, 22-Juan Imhoff
Reporting by Rex Gowar; Editing by Martyn Herman and Ken Ferris