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Monday, 17 December, 2018

TJ ready to cash in as All Blacks pack lay strong foundation

New Zealand ring changes for Pumas clash

Scrum-half TJ Perenara is often in the thick of the action for the All Blacks
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Rugby Championship
Sky Sports Action, 8.35am Saturday

Argentina's standing in world rugby has been greatly enhanced since their inclusion in the Rugby Championship in 2012 but their results against New Zealand have steadily worsened.

Los Pumas shipped 93 points and 13 tries in last year's two Rugby Championship encounters, and 13 tries is exactly how many the All Blacks have scored in their two wins over Australia in this campaign.

It's no surprise to see the match handicap pitched at 30 points but New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has shuffled his line-up, using the fixture to test the depth of his impressive squad.

Flanker Vaea Fifita makes his first start while Nehe Milner-Skudder lines up on the wing for the first time since the 2015 Rugby World Cup final following a run of injuries.

Hansen has also shaken up his half-back combination with TJ Perenara wearing the number-nine shirt, and the lively scrum-half could be a worthwhile tryscorer wager.

It's hard to know how New Zealand will play as they attack on so many fronts, but conditions may favour a forward-based approach.

Overnight downpours are forecast to clear by morning but the pitch may well be heavy and strong winds are forecast. If the All Blacks choose to keep it tight and pile pressure on through their pack, Perenara is often the man in position to finish off.

Argentina have made changes of their own, with Nicolas Sanchez returning at fly-half in place of the injured Juan Martin Hernandez, while lock Tomas Lavanini has been dropped after being sent off in their home defeat to South Africa last time out.

Discipline was a problem for Los Pumas in both matches against the Boks - they conceded 12 penalties to six in their opening match and 11 to six a week later at home - and any indiscretions will allow the All Blacks to push for territory and apply constant attacking pressure.

TJ Perenara to score a try
1pt 6-4 Paddy Power

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Overnight downpours are forecast to clear by morning but the pitch may well be heavy and strong winds are forecast
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