It’s knockout time at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, with the quarter-finals kicking off on Saturday with a battle between Wales and Argentina in Marseille.
The pair meet at the Stade Velodrome ahead of a monumental Paris showdown between Ireland and New Zealand’s All Blacks.
Sunday builds towards another monster last eight contest as the host nation go up against South Africa’s reigning champions at the Stade de France, after England tackle Fiji on the south coast.
Wales vs Argentina
The quarter-finals of the 2023 Rugby World Cup kick off at the iconic Stade Velodrome, as Wales and Argentina go head-to-head for a place in the last four.
It’s the kinder half of the draw for sure, not least when two of Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and France are guaranteed to fall at this hurdle.
But both have earned their shot at going deep into the tournament.
Wales are peaking at the right time under veteran coach Warren Gatland, coming through Pool C with a clean sweep of four wins from four, with three bonus points to add.
It could have been oh so different had they not clung on so desperately for a 32-26 win over fellow knockout qualifiers Fiji in Bordeaux on the opening weekend, with steam coming out of the ears of captain Dan Biggar throughout a torrid encounter for the men in red.
A 28-8 success over gallant Portugal followed for a much-changed line up, before a famous, 40-6 thumping of Australia ushered Eddie Jones’ sorry Wallabies towards the World Cup exit door.
Last Saturday’s 43-19 beating of out-of-puff Georgia finished the job to set up a quarter-final date in Provence.
Argentina had to come the long way around, after crumpling to a 27-10 loss at the hands of 14-man England on the opening Saturday.
A bye week followed to allow Pool D to take shape without Los Pumas and leave them no room for further error, with a 19-10 Saint-Etienne success over Samoa helping to right the South American ship.
Continental neighbours Chile proved no match for the tier one nation in a 59-5 defeat, before the Argentinians sealed their passage by seeing off qualification rivals Japan 39-27 in the decisive round of group fixtures.
A welcome boost for Gatland is the fitness of Biggar to start at fly-half.
Jac Morgan captains his side from the blindside flank, joined in the back row by eighth man Aaron Wainwright.
Pablo Matera and Gonzalo Bertranou are two big misses for Los Pumas, with the former replaced at scrum-half by Tomas Cubelli, while Facundo Isa takes the number eight jersey.
Wales Starting XV: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Jac Morgan, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Dafydd Jenkins, 20 Christ Tshiunza, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Rio Dyer.
Argentina Starting XV: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Emiliano Beffelli, 13 Lucio Clinti, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Francisco Gomez, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Joel Sclavi, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Rodrigo Bruni, 21 Lautaro Bazan Velez, 22 Nicolas Sanchez, 23 Matias Moroni.
RWC 2023: Wales vs Argentina prediction and kick off time
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Kick Off Time: 17.00 on Saturday, 14 October 2023.