Argentina lived up to their reputation as a very difficult side to beat at home as they led the Springboks for the majority of their Mendoza Test match, before the two sides shared the points with a 16-16 draw come full time.
The home side were fired up from the get-go, while the visitors looked lacklustre and at times leaderless under the physical confrontation of Los Pumas.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer relied on a charge-down try to help the Boks, who have never lost to Argentina, save a bit of face. The breakdown was a particular area of concern for South Africa, where their new loose trio combination failed to deal with the passion of the home side.
“All credit to Argentina. We were not good enough and they played very well, but we let our country and ourselves down tonight,” said Meyer after the game.
“Argentina came hard at us as expected, creating many difficult situations for our inexperienced team, and we were found wanting at times when it came to mental toughness.
“I am sorry the way we played did not honour the great welcome we had in Mendoza. The people can be proud of their team,” said Meyer of Argentina, who were playing only their second match in the expanded southern hemisphere competition.
Morne Steyn had a chance to take the lead with seven minutes left, but his kick sailed wide.
Inspirational Argentine captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe said that his team had made progress, and now have an even bigger task ahead of them.
“There was much talk this week about improving how we got out of our own half and for a big part of the match we did that well. The key factors were attitude, commitment and confidence.
“We made progress from last week in Cape Town and now we must prepare for the biggest challenges we will face as players,” he said of next months tour of Australasia.
New Zealand lead the Rugby Championship on eight points, followed by South Africa on six, Argentina on two, and Australia with zero.
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