All you need to know ahead of...

Argentina v USA

The door to the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals has shut on Argentina.

After two semifinals and a quarterfinal appearance in the last three Rugby World Cups, the Pumas farewell the ongoing tournament in Japan in their last Pool C game on Wednesday against the United States in Kumagaya.

In reality, Argentina has been saying farewell since the opening weekend when Benjamin Urdapilleta missed a long-range penalty in the 79th minute and France held on to win 23-21.

Advertisement

Argentina beat Tonga then lost to England 39-10 on Saturday with 14 men.

Its earliest exit in 16 years was confirmed on Sunday when France beat Tonga.

The only consolation left for Argentina is to finish third in the pool and earn automatic qualification for the 2023 tournament in, ironically, France.

To that end, plus being mindful of a four-day turnaround, Argentina coach Mario Ledesma upended his side and made nine changes to the starting lineup in hope that fresh minds and legs can give them a fresh boost.

It features the return of starting first-five Nicolas Sanchez, who was dropped to the reserves after the France loss, and dropped altogether after the Tonga win.

Sanchez owns the Pumas test points record, but he has been off his game in Japan like so many other teammates and been handed a chance by Ledesma to redeem himself.

Premium gold

There are four who will make their first appearances in this tournament, including flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon, who will play in his fourth World Cup.

He's the only survivor from the 2007 Pumas team which reached the semifinals for the first time. The others getting a first run were No 8 Rodrigo Bruni, center Juan Cruz Mallia, and fullback Joaquin Tuculet.

Advertisement

Halfback Gonzalo Bertranou, summoned on Saturday after Tomas Cubelli picked up a tournament-ending calf injury against England, could also make his first appearance off the bench.

That meant only two-cap hooker Santiago Socino in the squad will not have appeared in this World Cup, as Ledesma stuck with Julian Montoya and former captain Agustin Creevy.

If finishing third is a comedown to a side that believed it could make fourth consecutive quarterfinals, then the Pumas ought to be motivated by listening to the Americans, who have made third a major goal.

The chance to automatically qualify for a Rugby World Cup for the first time is still possible.

"With Argentina's short turnaround, then losing to England and not qualifying, and the disappointment they're facing, they mightn't show up as well as they would have if they were qualifying," Eagles No 10 AJ MacGinty said.

"As much as that might play a factor, we still have to back up our performance."

The Americans were mauled by England but trailed France only 12-9 with 15 minutes to go.

They lost 33-9, but they were somewhat pleased, especially with their discipline.

They conceded only four penalties against France, and are determined to repeat against the feisty Argentines.

"The pressure is on us to deliver another performance that's even better than the France game," MacGinty said.

"If we can do that as a squad and as individuals, then that puts us in a good place for beating Argentina."

The United States has lost eight straight Rugby World Cup games dating to 2011, and MacGinty said they can end the streak on Wednesday.

"A third-place finish is something that's never been done. For us, that's a massive motivational thing," he added.

To try to end eight straight losses to Argentina over 30 years, in their first matchup in 16 years, the United States made five changes to the starting lineup, two of them positional.

Lock Greg Peterson is up from the reserves in the only change to the pack, Paul de Haas is at halfback after Cam Dolan started in the losses to England and France, and Paul Lasike is at second-five so a tall Marcel Brache is on the wing to counter Argentina's kicking game.

Match details: Pool C, Wednesday, October 9, 5.45pm, Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Saitama Prefecture, Kumagaya City.

Referee: Paul Williams (NZ)

Squads

Argentina:

Joaquin Tuculet, Bautista Delguy, Juan Cruz Mallia, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Santiago Carreras, Nicolas Sanchez, Felipe Ezcurra; Rodrigo Bruni, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Pablo Matera (captain), Matias Alemanno, Guido Petti, Santiago Medrano, Julian Montoya, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.

Reserves: Agustin Creevy, Mayco Vivas, Enrique Pieretto Heiland, Marcos Kremer, Tomas Lezana, Gonzalo Martin Bertranou, Benjamin Urdapilleta, Matias Moroni.

USA: Mike Te'o, Blaine Scully (captain), Bryce Campbell, Paul Lasike, Marcel Brache, AJ MacGinty, Ruben de Haas; Cam Dolan, Hanco Germishuys, Tony Lamborn, Greg Peterson, Nate Brakeley, Titi Lamositele, Joe Taufete'e, Eric Fry.

Reserves: Dylan Fawsitt, Olive Kilifi, Paul Mullen, Ben Landry, Ben Pinkelman, Nate Augspurger, Will Hooley, Martin Iosefo.

The USA have never beaten Los Pumas. Photo / Getty Images
The USA have never beaten Los Pumas. Photo / Getty Images

How to watch/stream

The Herald will have live updates of the match from 5.30pm. Spark Sport coverage starts at 5.15pm. Kickoff is at 5.45pm.

Head-to-head

Argentina and the USA have played 8 matches before this clash, with Los Pumas winning all of them.

Last match: The Argentines ran in six tries in a 42-8 drubbing on 23 August 2003.

Prediction: USA by 4.

Group standings