Wales came into this Rugby World Cup seemingly in disarray. But in typical Warren Gatland fashion they’ve found form at the right time and, bar a late scare against Fiji, they’ve cruised into the quarter-finals in comfortable fashion.
Argentina, meanwhile, got off to a slow start in Pool D. While there was no guarantee they would win against England in the opening game, the manner of their defeat would have left them wondering if they’d even get through the group. But a hard-fought win against Samoa and victory against Chile in the first-ever all-South American World Cup clash saw them find some momentum before they dispatched Japan in an end-to-end affair.
Wales have won 14 of the 21 meetings between these two sides in their Test history, including both Rugby World Cup fixtures, although both of those matches came during the 1990s and were played in the Welsh capital. Recent form suggests it will be a tight affair. Wales and the Pumas have met three times since the last World Cup, winning one match apiece and sharing a draw.
Route to the Knockouts
- Won 32-26 vs Fiji
- Won 28-8 vs Portugal
- Won 40-6 vs Australia
- Won 43-19 vs Georgia
- Lost 10-27 vs England
- Won 19-10 vs Samoa
- Won 59-5 vs Chile
- Won 39-27 vs Japan
Getting the basics right is always key to a successful World Cup campaign and the Welsh set-piece has been a real strength during the tournament so far. Gatland’s side have recorded a 96% scrum success rate – only Fiji (96.2%) have bettered that (and only fractionally) – while they’re one of just two sides not to concede a penalty on their own feed this campaign. The lineout has been solid, too (89% success), and they’re the only nation to rank in the top five for both scrum and lineout success this year.
Argentina have been stood out at the lineout and maul. The Pumas are one of just three teams with a success rate of 90% or better at the lineout (91%, also New Zealand and France) while they’ve averaged the most metres gained per maul (5.7).
‘Safety first’ has been the name of the game for Argentina at this tournament, too – they’ve recorded the best 22 exit success rate, clearing their lines from 96% of their possessions inside their own 22, and opting to use the boot on 65% of their exits, the third highest rate of any team. You can find out more insights like these via our Stats Hub.
Quick ruck speed is essential for breaking down opposition defences and Wales will need to improve in that area if they’re to progress deep into the knockout stage. Their average ruck speed in attack is 4.7 seconds, higher than any other team, while they sit very much in mid-table for ruck success (95.7%) rate. They’ll hope to improve their work at the breakdown when in possession.
Wales might just get away with their below-par ball retention at the ruck, though, as the Pumas have won just 15 turnovers in total – including just nine jackals – fewer than any other nation at this year’s World Cup. At the set-piece, while the Pumas’ lineout has been impressive, the same can’t be said of the scrum, with Michael Cheika’s men recording an 87% scrum success rate. Only five teams have recorded a lower rate.
George North has consistently made it over the gainline this tournament, recording a 95% gainline success rate from his 20 carries, the best rate of any player to run with the ball on 10+ occasions. The likes of Louis Rees-Zammit have benefited from North punching holes in the midfield, with the flying winger getting across the try line on five occasions in the pool stage, just one behind top try scorer Damian Penaud. In the pack, Will Rowlands and Jac Morgan have been defensive rocks. Of all quarter-finalists, they rank first and second respectively for tackles per game (Rowlands 16.3, Morgan 14.7).
Wales v Argentina Prediction
Win prediction: Wales 58.2% – Draw 0.8% – Argentina 41.0%
Score prediction: Wales 25-22 Argentina
The Opta supercomputer predicts Wales to qualify for the semi-finals. They are 58.2% favourites at kick-off compared to Argentina’s 41.0%.
Wales v Argentina Lineups
In Welsh team news, Dan Biggar is fit to start at fly-half and Tommy Reffell is retained at openside flanker.
Michael Cheika makes two changes to his starting XV for the quarter-final against Wales on Saturday in Marseille.
Wales: 1 Gareth Thomas, 2 Ryan Elias, 3 Tomas Francis, 4 Will Rowlands, 5 Adam Beard, 6 Jac Morgan (c), 7 Tommy Reffell, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 9 Gareth Davies, 10 Dan Biggar, 11 Josh Adams, 12 Nick Tompkins, 13 George North, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 15 Liam Williams
Argentina: 1 Thomas Gallo, 2 Julián Montoya (c), 3 Francisco Gómez Kodela, 4 Guido Petti Pagadizabal, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7 Marcos Kremer, 8 Facundo Isa, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 10 Santiago Carreras, 11 Mateo Carreras, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 13 Lucio Cinti, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 15 Juan Cruz Mallia
Other Quarter-Final Match-ups
- Ireland v New Zealand
- England v Fiji
- France v South Africa