New Zealand may have beaten Argentina by just four points last week but they head into the second round of the Rugby Championship as favourites to see off South Africa.

The Springboks won on their previous visit, although history is very much against them when it comes to away Tests against the All Blacks, with the 57-0 demolition of two years ago still fresh in their minds.

Australia could not handle Rassie Erasmus' men last week but will hope for more success against an Argentina side who have won just two of their past 15 Tests on their travels.

In fact, the Pumas will be bidding to win for only the second time on Australian soil since 1983.

Take a look at the pick of the Opta numbers ahead of round two...

 

Australia v Argentina

- Australia have won 16 of their most recent 18 games against Argentina, including a 45-34 win in their last encounter – the highest total score ever between the two nations.

- The Pumas have only beaten Australia once away from home since 1983 - a 23-19 win in Queensland last September.

- Argentina are on a losing streak of six games, including their past three matches on the road.

- Australia conceded 291 metres in round one, the fewest of any of the four teams and 183 metres lower than their game average from 2018.

- Jeronimo de la Fuente was the only player to make more than 10 carries and 10 tackles in round one (11 carries, 12 tackles).

New Zealand v South Africa

- New Zealand have won 12 of the past 14 Tests against South Africa - including a 32-30 victory last time out - and 22 of their most recent 25 against all opposition.

- The Springboks claimed a 36-34 win on their previous visit to New Zealand and will be hoping for back-to-back wins there for only the third time in their history, after 1937 and 2008-09.

- They have won three of their past four Tests but only triumphed twice in their most recent 12 away Rugby Championship matches.

- The All Blacks are just six points shy of becoming the first team in Test rugby history to reach 16,000 points. No other team has even gone beyond 14,000.

- Ngani Laumape gained 7.2 metres per carry in round one of this year's tournament, the most of any player to make at least 10 carries.

Mark Adair led the way as England failed to build on a strong morning session and finished day two of their Ashes warm-up Test against Ireland just 181 runs ahead on 303-9 at Lord's.

Having resumed play trailing by 122, England had erased the deficit by lunch thanks to excellent batting from Test debutant Jason Roy (72) and the superb Jack Leach, who scored 92 as nightwatchman, and they looked in a strong position at 171-1.

But Adair's dismissal of Leach midway through the afternoon session resulted in a middle-order collapse - Joe Denly (10) run out after a mix up with Joe Root before Jonny Bairstow headed back to the pavilion with a pair.

Moeen Ali fell shortly after tea, and though he had steadied the ship, captain Root (31) followed with an edge off Adair (3-66).

Sam Curran struck an impressive 37 from 29, including four boundaries and two sixes, to boost England's hopes, though he fell to Stuart Thompson before play was halted due to thunderstorms, with Ireland well in the hunt for a famous victory.

After a nervy start in which they lost Rory Burns (6), England settled - Leach hitting five boundaries from nine deliveries before sealing his half-century with a thick edge down to third man, while Roy - who was dismissed for five on Wednesday - crunched a four from a short delivery to bring up a 47-ball 50.

Gary Wilson handed Leach a reprieve when he put down what should have been a routine catch diving to his left following the break, though Thompson's superb delivery to Roy ended the partnership.

Eight runs shy of a maiden century, Leach was dropped for a second occasion, but his luck ran out three deliveries later when he edged to Adair at second slip.

Root's hesitation cost Denly his wicket, and England lost a second batsman in quick succession as Adair trapped Bairstow lbw.

Moeen edged behind to Wilson four overs after the restart, and Ireland's wicketkeeper then atoned for his earlier drop with another spectacular catch to send Root walking before Adair claimed a third wicket of the session when Woakes was caught in the slips.

Will Porterfield almost outdid Wilson when he leapt to try and take in a Curran drive one handed, though the Surrey man was out when he sliced a pull to a man in the deep, and despite some big blows by Stuart Broad, England finished the day knowing they faced a fight to avoid suffering a pre-Ashes loss.

England paceman Jofra Archer will play for Sussex in Friday's T20 Blast match against Surrey as he continues his recovery from injury before the Ashes.

The 24-year-old, one of the stars of England's Cricket World Cup triumph, has spent time recuperating in Barbados after suffering a side strain.

Archer has been tipped to make his Test debut against Australia when the Ashes gets under way at Edgbaston next Thursday.

He returned to England to watch Sussex beat Hampshire in the T20 Blast on Wednesday, and has been passed fit to take part in the match against Surrey after medical checks.

Archer claimed 20 wickets at the World Cup and bowled the Super Over in the final against New Zealand on July 14, when England triumphed courtesy of a higher boundary count.

Sussex are third in the South Group after two matches.

Brad Shields has left England's training camp in Italy after sustaining a foot injury, with Alex Dombrandt called up as his replacement.

The 28-year-old back row has damaged ligaments in his foot and has been sent home for further tests.

Harlequins' Dombrandt, who has enjoyed a standout first season as a professional and was named in a preliminary training squad last month, will fly out to join the rest of the group on Thursday.

Eddie Jones' men are spending 12 days in Treviso as part of their preparations for the World Cup, which gets underway in Japan in September.

England, who face Wales, Ireland and Italy in internationals before the start of the tournament, begin their campaign against Tonga in Sapporo on September 22.

Australia paceman Pat Cummins is relishing the prospect of an Ashes series in England this year after missing out on a Test appearance in 2015.

Cummins was a late replacement for the retiring Ryan Harris four years ago but was not involved as England claimed a 3-2 series triumph.

The 26-year-old played a pivotal role in 2017-18, though, taking 23 wickets in total and being named player of the match in the fifth Test as Australia won 4-0.

Ahead of 2019's opener at Edgbaston next Thursday, Cummins is looking forward to a taste of what he considers probably the biggest challenge international cricket has to offer.

"Being on that tour in 2015, I just remember being really excited," he said.

"It felt like I was close to playing a Test towards the end. I feel like that would have been a bonus.

"Just being over here is pretty exciting. After winning the last Ashes, this is the next thing to tick off, playing in an away series. It doesn't get much tougher than this.

Cummins claimed 5-24 in an intra-squad warm-up clash on Wednesday, just two weeks on from the defeat to hosts England in the World Cup semi-finals, and he is confident of having found some rhythm.

"I hadn't bowled a long spell for quite a while and trying to learn some of the nuances of bowling in Test matches," he said.

"That first spell I think I bowled seven [overs] It's kind of weird. You start off fresh and then after three or four [overs], you're hurting a little bit.

"You kind of find [rhythm] towards the end. So just those kinds of things, trying to bowl a few bouncers and get the pace up.

"There's probably not too many bowlers around the world who would say they prefer one-day cricket. I just find there's always something a little bit more in the wicket. I like the contest of bowling 20 overs in a day, trying to out-think batsmen."

England's dramatic batting collapse against Ireland at Lord's was "an embarrassment", according to former captain Michael Vaughan.

The hosts won the toss and captain Joe Root chose to bat, but England were all out for 85 before lunch and then allowed Ireland to post 207, meaning the visitors carry a 122-run lead into Thursday's second day.

Vaughan told the BBC: "There were some good balls but there was also some timid play and poor strokes. Let's be honest, it's an embarrassment - you're at the home of cricket, in a Test against Ireland and you're all out for 85, there is no other word to describe it."

It was a day to savour for Tim Murtagh, the Middlesex stalwart who took five for 13 on his county ground for Ireland, who were facing England in a Test match for the first time.

The 37-year-old became the newest name on the Lord's honours board for his achievement and London-born Murtagh told the BBC: "Growing up as a kid I was dreaming of being on that honours board, just not from the away dressing room - but I guess it makes it even more special.

"Even the old gits like me had a few nerves this morning. It was a special occasion for everyone and a dream come true for all the guys, no matter how old."

There was an England Test debut for Warwickshire fast bowler Olly Stone, who took 3-29 and suggested there were "a few tired bodies" in the home side's ranks, but added: "I don't think there was a World Cup hangover. We said to try and treat it like a World Cup final."

Stone said England's players were "calm" and "having a bit of a laugh" in the dressing room as wickets fell, rather than panicking.

"Tim bowled well, showed the length to bowl on this wicket. He just bowled well on the day and got a bit out of the pitch," Stone said to Sky Sports.

"I thought we bowled well. Especially after tea, we came back out, we said it was a big session for us, it could go either way, and I thought we pulled it back. We beat the bat quite a bit and we were a bit unlucky some of the edges didn't carry or we didn't quite take them."

Cricket World Cup champions England were given a pre-Ashes wake-up call at Lord's as a Tim Murtagh-inspired Ireland dismissed Joe Root's team for 85 before building up a 122-run lead.

Ten days after lifting their first major ODI trophy in a thrilling final against New Zealand, England were back at the home of cricket in the longest format for a one-off four-day Test against the Irish as part of preparations for the Ashes.

And Australia would have been buoyed by what they saw as Murtagh (5-13) and Mark Adair (3-32) ensured an England side featuring five of their World Cup-winning squad - including Test debutant Jason Roy (5) - were dismissed inside 24 overs.

All 10 Irish wickets also fell on a green-tinged surface, though a half-century from Andy Balbirnie (55), who put on 87 for the third wicket with Paul Stirling (36), left Ireland - all out for 207 - in a strong position in their first Test against England.

England won the toss and elected to bat, with Roy the latest opener handed a chance to impress after scoring 443 in seven World Cup innings, yet things quickly unravelled.

Roy was the first to fall when edging Murtagh to first slip from the 11th ball he faced, while Joe Denly was out lbw to Adair for 23, which turned out to be England's top score.

Rory Burns (6) nicked behind, Root (2) was out lbw following an Ireland review, and fellow World Cup winners Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes were all removed for ducks as England crashed to 43-7 and Middlesex's Murtagh got his name on the Lord's honours board at his home ground.

Sam Curran (18) and debutant Olly Stone (19) at least made sure England moved well past their lowest Test score of 45, though it was still a chastening morning.

Ireland, playing in just their third Test, were two down before moving beyond England's total as Curran (3-28) removed openers Will Porterfield and James McCollum.

However, Balbirnie, who made a pair on his debut in the longest format, showed scoring was possible, making 10 boundaries before Stone (3-29) uprooted his middle stump.

Ireland lost their final eight wickets for 75 - Stuart Broad (3-60) moving above Dale Steyn into seventh in the list of all-time Test wicket-takers in the process - before nightwatchman Jack Leach safely negoiated the one Murtagh over before stumps without scoring.

England's Ashes preparations quickly hit the rocks as they were incredibly all out for 85 against Ireland in a humiliating start to this week's Test.

Three Cricket World Cup heroes went for ducks, Jason Roy made just five on debut and captain Joe Root added only two as the stunned hosts failed to make it to lunch at Lord's.

Tim Murtagh took figures of 5-13, earning his place on the honours board, as Ireland made hay in their first Test at the home of cricket.

The remarkable scenes should offer serious encouragement to Australia, themselves and Australia A meanwhile struggling with the bat in Southampton.

England looked to have recovered from Roy's shaky start that saw him edge to Paul Stirling in the slips, but Joe Denly, top-scoring on 23, went lbw to Mark Adair (3-32) to spark an astonishing collapse.

Rory Burns was caught behind for six and Adair got Root lbw before a remarkable run of ducks for England's ODI stars.

Jonny Bairstow was superb in the World Cup but his stumps were destroyed by Murtagh, who trapped Chris Woakes lbw - the review going with the umpire's decision - two balls later in a stunning two-wicket maiden.

Moeen Ali was caught behind and suddenly England were forced to work hard to avoid their record-low Test score (45 against Australia in 1887), doing so with boundaries met with sarcastic cheers.

The home side's fortunes did not improve, though, as Boyd Rankin (2-5) got a nick from Stuart Broad, before Sam Curran sent the same man to James McCollum at short leg.

Olly Stone, another debutant, got to 19 before Adair skittled him and England's innings was cut embarrassingly short just before the end of the session.

"I'm not quite sure what's happened over the past two hours, to be honest," Murtagh told Sky Sports.

Jason Roy's first Test innings for England lasted just 11 balls as he went for five against Ireland on Wednesday.

The Surrey star earned a place in the Test side with his performances at the Cricket World Cup and, as in that triumphant tournament, started as an opener at Lord's.

But Roy, featuring alongside county colleague Rory Burns, made an underwhelming start to his international career in the longest format.

The South Africa-born batsman edged Tim Murtagh to Paul Stirling at first slip for the first wicket of the match, reducing England to 8-1 in the third over.

Roy, who will hope to remain in the side for the Ashes series against Australia next month, had already escaped two close shaves prior to his dismissal.

The 29-year-old almost played onto leg stump from Mark Adair and then, from the following delivery, saw a no-ball save him from lbw.

Roy has past experience of a rough start to life on the biggest stage, though, having gone for a first-ball duck on his ODI bow against New Zealand in 2015.

Duane Vermeulen will captain South Africa against New Zealand in Saturday's Rugby Championship clash after Rassie Erasmus made 12 changes to his Springboks side.

South Africa defeated Australia 35-17 in Johannesburg last weekend, but Erasmus had already sent a separate group of players to New Zealand to prepare for the All Blacks.

They are joined by Eben Etzebeth, who was skipper last time out, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Makazole Mapimpi in the XV in Wellington.

Number eight Vermeulen leads the side, joining Du Toit and the inexperienced Kwagga Smith in the back row.

Willie le Roux is in at full-back and Cheslin Kolbe is included on the right wing. Damian de Allende, Lukhanyo Am, Handre Pollard and Faf de Klerk are also involved.

Franco Mostert will partner Etzebeth in the second row, while Herschel Jantjies, having debuted last weekend against the Wallabies, has done enough to earn a place on the bench.

Erasmus explained: "We have the utmost respect for the All Blacks who are the undisputed number one rugby team in the world.

"We know we will have to be at our very best to be competitive against the All Blacks on Saturday and that is why we have sent a group of players in advance to Wellington, so they could acclimatise after the long trip over from South Africa.

"The New Zealanders are a very experienced and settled side while we have some catching up to do in terms of where the two sides are at the moment."

 

South Africa XV to face New Zealand: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn, Jesse Kriel.

Australia's batsmen struggled during day one of a tour match ahead of the Ashes, with 17 wickets falling in their intra-squad clash on Tuesday.

Marnus Labuschagne top-scored with 41 for a Brad Haddin XII against a Graeme Hick XII in a worrying batting display by Australia just over a week out from the start of the first Test.

The tourists' batting shapes as the biggest concern and there was little to ease those worries at the Rose Bowl in Southampton.

Labuschagne was the only recognised batsman to reach double figures for Haddin's team, with pace duo Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc doing likewise by making 14 and opener David Warner falling for four.

Michael Neser (4-18) and Jackson Bird (3-28) did most of the damage as the Haddin XII were bowled out for 105.

Mitchell Marsh made a 33-ball 29 for the Hick XII, while Joe Burns (18), Cameron Bancroft (17) and Matthew Wade (10) got to double figures.

Cummins (3-15) and Peter Siddle (3-20) led the way with the ball as Australia's bowling depth and batting woes were highlighted.

"This game is a very serious game and it's a game that we're all looking to perform," Labuschagne said.

"As a whole squad, everyone wants to score runs, take wickets and I think we're getting the best out of each other by playing this hard cricket and it's the best preparation for the upcoming tour."

The first Test between Australia and England begins at Edgbaston on August 1.

Adam Hollioake believes Jason Roy is ready to be unleashed on Australia in the Ashes and wants to see Joe Root step up and bat at number three.

Roy will make his Test debut against Ireland at Lord's on Wednesday after playing a huge role in England's maiden Cricket World Cup triumph on home soil.

Former England ODI captain Hollioake thinks Roy and Surrey team-mate Rory Burns are the right men to open, with Keaton Jennings axed again following a poor series against West Indies.

Hollioake also feels captain Root should take it upon himself to solve the problem number three slot in the Ashes series opener at Edgbaston next week.

"I'd have Jason Roy in the side and I'd open with him. I'd definitely have him in the side after the way he played in the World Cup," Hollioake told Omnisport.

"And I would like to see Root go in at three, there's no doubt he is good enough as he is England's best batsman.

"If you have someone else who wants to do it and he can remain at four, that is great, but I can't see there is that much difference between three and four.

"I'd like to see Burns and Roy open. It's nice to have a bit of familiarity and it's right hand with left hand.

"They played last year together in Surrey's Championship-winning side, it has a nice feel about it."

James O'Connor has put his party-boy lifestyle behind him as he seeks to reignite his Australia career.

O'Connor is in contention for his first Wallabies cap in six years when Argentina visit Brisbane in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.

The 29-year-old utility back last featured against the same opponents in 2013, before his contract was ripped up amid reports of being intoxicated and abusive towards staff at Perth Airport.

That added to a lengthy rap sheet and stalled O'Connor on 44 Test caps but his form for Sale Sharks paved the way for a return to his homeland with the Queensland Reds last week, making him available for Australia once more.

"Tuesday nights, James was always out and about doing stuff because Wednesday we have off," scrum-half Will Genia told reporters when discussing O'Connor's new mature approach.

"Tuesday night in the last three or four weeks that we've had, he's in his room stretching, doing what it takes in terms of recovery.

"He understands that this is a huge opportunity for him."

Genia believes the example of Nic White, who started the opening Rugby Championship defeat to South Africa having spent the past two years with Exeter Chiefs, shows O'Connor's reintroduction can be a success.

"You saw Whitey come back and play very well. Hopefully it can be a similar story with James because I think he was on 44 Tests and he was so young when he left," added Genia, who will retire from Wallabies duty after the World Cup.

"We all know how good he is and hopefully, the fact he's in a better space mentally, he can be an even better player this time around."

Jason Roy and Olly Stone will make their Test debuts when England host Ireland at Lord's on Wednesday, captain Joe Root has confirmed.

Roy becomes the latest player to try his hand in the problem position of opener for England in the longest format, having shown blistering form at the top of the order during his country's triumphant Cricket World Cup campaign.

The 29-year-old boasts nine ODI hundreds and 18 half-centuries and will open alongside Surrey team-mate Rory Burns, with Kent's Joe Denly slated to come in at three ahead of skipper Root.

"I think with Jason I just want him to go and be himself out there and trust his instincts as much as possible," Root said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"He's got very good instincts, he reads the game very well and he brings something different to our Test batting side for sure.

"He's a proven performer in international cricket so he's fully capable of making big contributions at the top of the order. I hope he doesn't try and play differently."

A sweltering weather forecast for the one-off Test has contributed to the decision to field two spinners, with Somerset left-armer Jack Leach slotting in alongside all-rounder Moeen Ali.

Leach's county colleague Lewis Gregory misses out, with paceman Stone getting the nod having recovered from the back injury that forced him out of England's tour of the Caribbean earlier this year.

Side injuries sustained by Mark Wood and Jofra Archer could combine to create an Ashes opening for Stone, with the five-match series against arch-rivals Australia beginning at Edgbaston next week.

"I think he's got good pace, that's one thing that he brings to this group and this squad – an extra bit of pace, something different to turn to," Root said of the 25-year-old.

England team:

Jason Roy, Rory Burns, Joe Denly, Joe Root (captain), Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, Olly Stone

Ben Stokes is "flattered" to be nominated for the New Zealander of the Year award but England's Cricket World Cup hero says Kane Williamson should receive the accolade.

Votes were cast for the New Zealand-born all-rounder to claim the prize last week after he was named man of the match following a decisive innings in a World Cup final defeat of the Black Caps at Lord's.

However, Stokes believes New Zealand captain Williamson is the man who should be given the honour.

"I am flattered to be nominated for New Zealander of the Year. I am proud of my New Zealand and Maori heritage but it would not sit right with me to be nominated for this prestigious award," said the 28-year-old.

"There are people who deserve this recognition more and have done a lot more for the country of New Zealand.

"I have helped England lift a World Cup and my life is firmly established in the UK – it has been since I was 12 years old.

"I feel the whole country should align their support to New Zealand captain Kane Williamson. He should be revered as a Kiwi legend. He led his team in this World Cup with distinction and honour. 

"He was the player of the tournament and an inspirational leader of men. He shows humility and empathy to every situation and is an all-round good bloke.

"He typifies what it is to be a New Zealander. He would be a worthy recipient of this accolade. New Zealand, fully support him. He deserves it and gets my vote."

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