October 3, 2019 / 1:01 PM / 11 days ago

Argentina make one change for 'World Cup final' against England

TOKYO (Reuters) - Argentina have made one just one change to their starting line-up for their crunch Rugby World Cup Pool C match against England on Saturday, a game coach Mario Ledesma likens to an early final for the Pumas.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Pool C - Argentina v Tonga - Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Osaka, Japan - September 28, 2019 Argentina head coach Mario Ledesma during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Annegret Hilse

Having lost their opening match of the tournament against France to a late drop goal, Argentina need to beat England on Saturday at Tokyo Stadium to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the knockout stage.

Argentina’s record at the last three World Cups is arguably superior to England’s with semi-final appearances in 2007 and 2015 and a run to the quarter-finals in 2011.

Only one win in their last 11 tests - a victory over Tonga in their second pool match - means they go into the clash as heavy underdogs but Ledesma suggested that might be the way they liked it.

“What gives me confidence is the work we’ve been doing, and the mindset of the boys around this game,” Ledesma told reporters on Thursday.

“For us, this is a World Cup final and it’s a real chance to get in the history books of Argentine rugby.

“Obviously, England is a candidate for the title, they’ve been saying it for the last four years, Eddie Jones has been saying it. They have a lot of resources, they have a really good team.

“But I am confident that it’s going to be really hard to beat us at the weekend.”

The one change to the team was Javier Ortega Desio in at number eight in place of Tomas Lezana but the most notable omission was that of Nicolas Sanchez, who failed to make the matchday 23.

The highest points scorer at the 2015 tournament and rated by Ledesma as the best flyhalf in the world last year, Sanchez looked horribly out-of-sorts against France and after coming off the bench against Tonga.

Benjamin Urdapilleta will again start at flyhalf with the inexperienced Argentina-based Lucas Mensa offering cover for Urdapilleta.

“When we are selecting a team, we are thinking about the best team to win the game and that’s the parameters to select the team, there’s nothing negative in it,” said Ledesma when asked about the decision.

“It’s just this is the best selection possible to win this game.”

Ledesma has spoken previously about the difficulty of integrating overseas-based players like Sanchez into the core of the squad that plays together in Super Rugby for Argentina’s successful Jaguares team.

Argentina will feel they are better than a side that endured a 10-match losing streak until their victory over Tonga, and that they have a big performance coming at some point in the tournament.

“The results we’ve have before are not important, we win this game and we’re in the quarter-finals, that’s how big this is,” Ledesma said.

“We have everything to win in this game, nothing to lose, that’s where the confidence comes from.”

Argentina: 15-Emiliano Boffelli, 14-Matias Moroni, 13-Matias Orlando, 12-Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11-Santiago Carreras, 10-Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9-Tomas Cubelli, 8-Javier Ortega Desio, 7-Marcos Kremer, 6-Pablo Matera (captain), 5-Tomas Lavanini, 4-Guido Petti, 3-Juan Figallo, 2-Julian Montoya, 1-Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro

Replacements: 16-Agustin Creevy, 17-Mayco Vivas, 18- Santiago Medrano, 19-Matias Alemanno, 20-Tomas Lezana, 21-Felipe Ezcurra, 22-Lucas Mensa, 23-Bautista Delguy

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty and David Clarke

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