Underdone Argentina postpone Waratahs game

Argentina coach Mario Ledesma hopes his players’ lack of match practice will be nullified by their desire to lift the spirits of their coronavirus-torn country.

Argentina’s build-up for the Rugby Championship has been the stuff of nightmares, with unsuccessful COVID bubbles and ongoing lockdowns severely disrupting their preparations.

Los Pumas were scheduled to face the NSW Waratahs in a friendly on Saturday, but they had to cancel it because too many of their players had picked up minor niggles.

Argentina’s Rubgy Championship campaign begins against the All Blacks in Sydney on November 14.

Ledesma has no idea what to expect from his side from a physical point of view.

But he knows mentally they will be fired up to give people in Argentina something to be proud about.

Earlier this week Argentina became the fifth country to record one million coronavirus cases.

“We’ve been in lockdown for six, seven months,” Ledesma said.

“The situation in Argentina is not looking good in terms of COVID and economically.

“A little bit of what we’re doing is for them back home.

“I’m really proud of the boys how they stayed positive and training with a lot of attitude and staying humble.”

Ledesma said he has been forced to constantly change his plans this year with multiple obstacles thwarting his efforts at every corner.

“We did a bubble we got 15 positive cases, the bubble was gone,” Ledesma said.

“Then we started training again – and again positive cases. Then we went to Uruguay and then here (to Australia).

“Our boys haven’t done one real scrum in seven or eight months against a proper opposition. They’ve just been scrimmaging and playing against themselves.

“I don’t know rugby wise (how the players will go), but mentally I think it really got us in a really good spot.”

Argentina said it had postponed the match-up against the Waratahs “to preserve the physical condition of some players who have slight muscle injuries”.

Jeronimo de la Fuente, Lucas Paulos, Jose Luis Gonzalez, Santiago Grondona and Tomas Lezana were among the players who needed the rest.

Flanker Juan Martin Gonzalez is set to undergo scans after injuring his left adductor at training on Thursday.

The friendly could take place next week but details are yet to be confirmed.

Argentina have been training behind closed doors at Leichhardt Oval since arriving in Sydney earlier this month.

But 13 other players who arrived from Europe are still serving their mandatory isolation period, meaning the whole squad is yet to train together.

Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has joined Argentina’s coaching panel for the Rugby Championship in what has become an interesting side plot.

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LIVE ACTION: Underdone Breakers to get gritty in Grafton

THE AFL North Coast competition has now moved past the halfway mark and as clubs start to turn their attention towards finals football.

The season to date has been extremely close so by looking too far forward, a team could lose perspective on what’s right in front of them in round 7.

Never has the old adage ‘one week at a time’ been more relevant.

For the high flying Grafton Tigers the next challenge is posed by the reigning premiers, Coffs Harbour Breakers.

These two sides met in round one where the Tigers claimed a hard fought victory on away territory.

Since this time the Tigers have continued to build and are putting together an outstanding season. The only loss of 2020 was by one point, which sees Grafton sitting on top of the ladder and drawing even more former players out of the woodwork.

The Breakers continue to struggle with injuries and are yet to put their strongest team on the park in 2020.

This week is expected to be no different and as a result, the premiers are struggling to find any kind of rhythm or consistency. Having to face an in-form Tigers outfit at their home ground is not the ideal scenario for Breakers.

The other men’s match of round 7 sees a confident Sawtell Toormina Saints face off against a Port Macquarie Magpies outfit that needs to start hitting its straps.

The Saints are buoyed by a second local derby win on the trot and will be looking to further consolidate second spot on the ladder.

After a tough year in 2019 the pieces of the puzzle are coming together for Sawtell who are looking like they has the makings of a playing group that can challenge for major honours.

Port had a tough day at the office last week, playing undermanned against the top team. While the effort can’t be faulted, the team desperately needs to get its strongest 22 players on the park together to start winning matches and exerting influence on the ladder.

The finals prospects aren’t yet dire, but another loss in this round would see the Pies with a mountain to climb.

The women’s match of the round sees the clash of the top two teams – Coffs Harbour up against Northern Beaches Blues.

The Breakers have four wins from as many starts and while another win won’t yet seal the top spot, it will put them within touching distance of an unassailable lead.

The team has been playing with a steely resolve in 2020 that appears to have been forged in last season’s finals disappointment.

The Blues have been improving week on week and are growing in confidence. There’s no better way to measure how a team is progressing than to go head to head with the leading team and this will be a challenge that the Blues will relish.

Women’s footy has a reputation for low scoring games, but both of these teams have thrown off the shackles in recent weeks and this is sure to be a free flowing encounter.

Being played at Ellem Oval, Grafton at 11:40am on Saturday, this is a great chance for women and girls of the Clarence to get along and have a look.

Fans will be able to watch the action via The Daily Examiner and Coffs Coast Advocate websites, courtesy of Kyle Hands Media, who has begun beaming live local sport into homes as restrictions on spectators have increased.

Live stream links below:

Women’s: https://youtu.be/OFn6vgVvcmk

Reserves: https://youtu.be/wlVfpCAheBs

Seniors: https://youtu.be/zmJg1pTqib0

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