Wynne Gray 's Opinion

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Pumas look to push All Blacks off course

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Argentina's Agustin Creevy, right, tackles South Africa's Frans Malherbe during their Rugby Championship match in Salta, Argentina. Photo / Getty Images
Argentina's Agustin Creevy, right, tackles South Africa's Frans Malherbe during their Rugby Championship match in Salta, Argentina. Photo / Getty Images

The "bajada" is back in business for the Pumas with their intention to wobble the All Black scrum to generate an uncertain ripple effect through their hosts.

That concerted eight-man push unsettled the Springbok scrum and with wet weather forecast for the test in Napier on Saturday, the Pumas will be fuelling their crouch, bind, set attack.

"These guys hammered South Africa at scrum and it was a bit like them going back in time to what suits them," All Black scrum boss Mike Cron said.

"The scrum is their DNA, they have an eight-man push with great cohesion, timing and attitude.

"They sink and then extend and are very good at it."

The Pumas have reworked their eight-man legendary "bajada" power scrum after the hit was removed from the engagement and have shaped a menacing scrum which will test the All Blacks more than the Wallabies managed.

The All Blacks played their only test in Napier in 1996 against Samoa and this second outing will be refereed by French referee Pascal Gauzere.

Cron was satisfied with the All Black scrum in their initial two Rugby Championship duels as he worked alongside some special athletes with great skill.

This test will be a different examination.

"It will be up a notch again - up probably three from what we've had in the last two tests," he said.

"It will give us more of an idea about some of our players like Wyatt Crockett, Dane Coles, Charlie Faumuina and Ben Franks who have not had a lot of international experience.

"They are new to the sort of scrum the Pumas bring and this will be a sort of litmus test for the guys who play."

Cron has worked with the All Black scrum since 2004 and rates the current crew up with the best for their combined athleticism, attitude and application.

The new scrum laws had helped teams' flow of scrum ball and if they got that quality right then the rest of their game surged.

At Eden Park, the All Blacks produced better quality set-pieces and that had a positive knock-on effect which flourished in their defence and positive attacking decisions.

The Pumas have brought in new tight forwards this season with captain and hooker Agustin Creevy and tighthead prop Ramiro Herrera.

"They're good, they got into the Boks who had the du Plessis brothers, Gurthro Steenkamp and the Beast (Tendai Mtawarira) in their front row - the guys who dealt to most teams in the Super 15," Cron said.

Last year, the All Blacks beat the Pumas 28-13 in greasy conditions and drizzle in Hamilton where the visitors' scrum gave the hosts some difficulty.

Argentina were beaten 33-15 in the return test at La Plata but repeated their set-piece ferocity.

- NZ Herald

Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

NZ Herald senior rugby writer Wynne Gray has been covering the All Blacks for almost 25 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

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