Wallabies fight fire with fire in must-win Tri-Nations clash

Who'd want to write rugby predictions after last week? After Argentina shocked the rugby world with their first win over the All Blacks in their 35-year Test history, the race for the Tri-Nations title has blown wide open.

While the All Blacks remain on top despite the upset, the Pumas and Wallabies are nipping at their heels. Both Australia and Argentina sit just two points behind, with the Aussies needing to win their two clashes with the Pumas, while for the Argentinians, they'll have to beat the Wallabies twice and the All Blacks for a second time.

It makes this weekend's match in Newcastle all the more important for both sides.

Newcastle is somewhat of a bogey destination for the Wallabies; their last game there was a forgettable clash in 2012 when they lost in the wet 9-6 to Scotland. This week though promises to be dry, fast-paced and exciting rugby.

Demonstrating their passion, aggression and just how little time they needed together to down the world No. 2 side, the Pumas will head into Saturday night brimming with confidence and the knowledge they have the game plan and execution to end the Wallabies' hopes of claiming any silverware in 2020.

They'll have a not so secret weapon on their side as well, with former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika sitting in the Pumas' box wearing blue and providing them with tips on how to defeat his former side.

While some of the Wallabies players may be wary of Cheika's influence, current Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is focused on how his side will dismantle the big, blue wall Argentina's defence created last week to halt the All Blacks.

In a mammoth effort, the Pumas back row disrupted and hammered the All Blacks line. They won the tackle contest, dominated at the breakdown and constantly slowed down the ball; Marcos Kremer alone made a huge 28 tackles and several pilfers. Their influence on the game on Saturday will be huge, and is something the Wallabies have been discussing all week in preparation.

Naming young gun Harry Wilson, captain Michael Hooper and versatile Ned Hanigan to replace the suspended Lachie Swinton in the back row, it's obvious Rennie is planning for the Wallabies to fight fire with fire. While Swinton's passion will be missed, his inaccuracy and ill-discipline would have come at a cost, instead Hanigan will need to step up and play at his brutal best, while Hooper and Wilson's influence at the breakdown will be essential to securing the side's front foot ball.

It's clear Rennie wants all the firepower he can get on the field, with rampaging Taniela Tupou recalled as well as Scott Sio, both of whom know how to hit the gain line hard. Tupou's ball skills and footwork will no doubt give his side an extra edge. It'll be important for the Wallabies strong ball carriers to carry hard into defence to draw the Pumas in and give their backline any chance to play outside them.

Perhaps most importantly for the Wallabies though will be their discipline. Last week the Pumas showed they weren't afraid to go for points from anywhere once they crossed that halfway line and will no doubt do the same this week with sharpshooter Nico Sanchez proving his radar is working.

Sanchez stands as one of the biggest threats to the Wallabies game on Saturday after he scored all 25 of the Pumas points against the All Blacks. It's not just his kicking game that will worry the Wallabies, but also his spark and creativity with ball in hand.

On the other side, Reece Hodge's kicking game will need to be on song to help push the Pumas back while his simple, underhandedness at fly-half gives his centre pairing Hunter Paisami and Jordan Petaia the chance to run the ball hard and show some flash.

In a must-win clash, the Wallabies can't be afraid to kick the ball or be dynamic with their game plan and importantly they must stay cool under pressure.

Prediction: Despite how impressive Argentina were last week, history's against them, while the Wallabies have been afforded the chance to learn from the All Blacks mistakes and counteract the Pumas forward pack dominance. Wallabies by three.

Wallabies: Tom Banks, Tom Wright, Jordan Petaia, Hunter Paisami, Marika Koroibete, Reece Hodge, Nic White, Harry Wilson, Michael Hooper, Ned Hanigan, Matt Philip, Rob Simmons, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Scott Sio. Replacements: Folau Fainga'a, Angus Bell, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Valetini, Liam Wright, Jake Gordon, Noah Lolesio, Filipo Daugunu.

Pumas: Santiago Carreras, Bautista Delguy, Matias Orlando, Juan Imhoff, Nicolas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli, Rodrigo Bruni, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera, Matias Alemann, Guido Petti, Francisco Gomez Kodela, Julian Montoya, Mahuel Tetaz Chapparo. Replacements: Santiago Socino, Mayco Vivas, Santiago Medrano, Santiago Grondona, Facundo Isa, Gonzalo Bertranou, Emiliano Boffelli, Santiago Cordero.