Rugby World Cup 2019 Pool C: Argentina v Tonga
Venue: Hanazono Stadium, Osaka Date: Saturday, 28 September Kick-off: 05:45 BST
Coverage: Full audio commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Sport website and app. Live television coverage on ITV

Argentina have drafted in fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta at the expense of Nicolas Sanchez for their World Cup encounter with Tonga on Saturday.

Sanchez started the Pumas’ opening defeat by France in which Argentina trailed 20-3 at half-time before rallying to lose 23-21.

Coach Mario Ledesma has made three other changes, including dropping former Worcester hooker Agustin Creevy.

Tonga have brought in James Faiva at 10 after Kurt Morath was ruled out.

The Sea Eagles record points-scorer Morath, who plays his club rugby for second-tier Doncaster Knights, suffered a tournament-ending throat injury in the 35-3 defeat by England.

Leicester’s Telusa Veainu is fit again after a serious foot injury that restricted him to only six appearances for the Tigers last season and takes his place at full-back.

Argentina are on a losing streak of 10 successive Tests, with their last victory being a 23-19 victory away to Australia in September 2018.

The promotion of Urdapilleta – one of only three overseas-based players in coach Mario Ledesma’s squad – gives the Castres playmaker his first international start since 2013.

Defeat for Argentina, who reached the semi-finals in 2007 and 2015, would seriously damage their hopes of making the knock-out stages.

Table

Teams:

Argentina: Boffelli; Moroni, Orlando, De La Fuente, Carreras; Urdapilleta, Cubelli; Tetaz Chaparro, Montoya, Figallo, Petti, Lavanini, Matera, Kremer, Lezana.

Replacements: Creevy, Vivas, Medrano, Alemanno, Ortega Desio, Ezcurra, Sanchez, Delguy

Tonga: Veainu; Lolohea, Hingano, Piutau, Halaifonua; Faiva, Takulua; Fisi’ihoi, Ngauamo, Tameifuna, Lousi, Fifita, Kalamafoni, Kapeli, Vaipulu.

Replacements: Sakalia, Fifita, Fia, Mafi, Manu, Fukofuka, Fosita, Vuna

What they said

Argentina number eight Tomas Lezana: “It will be a crunch, without a question. Tonga is a very physical team and I think we should keep to our set-pieces and redouble our efforts on defence as well as the contact area, since the game will no doubt veer in that direction.”

Tonga coach Toutai Kefu: “We don’t have many players like Telusa. He is high quality and has a lot of X factor.

“He is vital, critical for us. That’s why we’ve thrown him straight in. He is an integral part of the team. I think he will give us a spark in attack.”

Stats

  • Argentina and Tonga have met just once before in Test rugby, a clash at the 2015 Rugby World Cup which the Pumas won 45-16 in Leicester.
  • Argentina have won their last 11 Rugby World Cup matches against non-Tier-One opposition, their last such defeat coming in 1995 against Samoa.
  • Tonga have failed to score a try in each of their last two Rugby World Cup matches, having crossed for a try in each of their 17 games before this run and in 22 of their total 24 World Cup games prior.
  • Argentina are on a 10-match losing run in all competitions, their worst ever streak in Test rugby history, five of their last six defeats in this run however have come by a margin of six points or fewer.
  • Tonga are the only side at the 2019 Rugby World Cup who had no players in their original 31-man squad that played club rugby domestically.
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