Argentina came within two points of recording their first ever victory over South Africa, but couldn’t quite close out a game that they dominated for the most part. It took some substitutions and renewed vigour for the Boks to claim a tense 33-31 victory in Salta.
Everything went right for the home side for about 60 minutes of the game, including a mammoth scrum perforance, before the visiting Springboks found some form and claimed the win, keeping them top of the Rugby Championship table after two rounds.
Going into the match Argentina were ranked a quite hard to believe 12th in the world. A win against the 2nd ranked Springboks would have helped to improve on that significantly.
“I’ve said it before, but I really think Argentina is a much better team than what their world-ranking shows, and they showed it again today,” said captain Jean De Villiers after the match. “We’re happy that we could pull it through, but it could’ve gone either way.”
The Springboks led 16-13 at halftime thanks to a Bryan Habana opportunistic try, but it wasn’t really a reflection of what went on in the first half. Later in the game, with 20 minutes to go, Argentina led 28-16 with history beckoning, before the visitors went up a gear thanks to a few replacements.
A late penalty from Morne Steyn, on for young Handre Pollard, gave them the lead and the win.
“All credit to Argentina – they’ve been together for a month and you could see that today as they played some great rugby,” said Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, who praised his sides ability to get out of a tricky situation.
“We don’t want to say every week that we’ve shown great character, but we’ve now won nine out of our last 10 away games and I think the guys have shown that they know how to win. At one stage, we were down and out and the team came back.
“We know there are a lot of areas we have to work on, but we’re still in this competition.”
South Africa top the Rugby Championship on eight points from two games, while New Zealand are in second place with seven, following their big win over Australia. The next round of matches takes place in two week’s time, with Australia hosting South Africa, and New Zealand hosting Argentina.
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