Boks leave Pumas heartbroken in Salta

24 Aug 2014
Boks leave Pumas heartbroken in Salta

The Springboks have held off a very impressive Los Pumas team to win 33-31 in Salta, overcoming a 12-point deficit to remain unbeaten against Argentina, thus completing the second round of The Rugby Championship.

The sides scored three tries as piece in a ding-dong battle that saw the Boks came back from 28-16 down to snatch victory.

But did they deserve the win? Only the most biased Bok fan could suggest so.

Unlike last week's rain-affected clash in Pretoria, South Africa could not use the weather as an excuse this time as, under blue skies, they were outmuscled and outplayed at their own game for the better part of an hour.

Behind the fired-up pack that was consistently going forward, Nicolás Sánchez and Juan Martín Hernández were putting runners into space and keeping the Boks pinned back in their own half with clever kicks.

Expecting to be able to speed the game up from from last week's slugfest, the Boks looked rattled as it was their hosts who took the initiative and desperate scrambling defence was required to keep the blue and white jerseys at bay.

Humiliated at scrum time, the Springboks would have considered themselves fortunate to be leading 16-13 at the interval having been on the wrong end of the territory and possession statistics.

Indeed, los Pumas were the better team in the first half, dominating at scrum time and scoring the first try through Manuel Montero, only to see the Boks snatch the lead back thanks to a Bryan Habana try against the run of play.

Tries from replacement scrum-half Tomás Cubelli and full-back Joaquin Tuculet after the break saw Argentina take the game by the scruff of the neck against the shell-shocked tourists.

But the Pumas ran out of puff in the last quarter as tries from wing Cornal Hendricks and replacement Marcell Coetzee saw South Africa edge ahead.

Man of the match: Springboks flank Francois Louw deserves a mention for his defensive effort but the standout players were in the home side. The front row was incredible and Juan Manuel Leguizamón was a huge ball carrier. But we'll go for Nicolás Sánchez who, for the second week, was the most dangerous player.

Moment of the match: South Africa looked down and out until Cornal Hendricks' try which swung the momentum in South Africa's favour. It was a case of millimetres, but he just got rubber onto whitewash.

The scorers:

For Argentina: 
Tries: Montero, Cubelli 
Cons: Sánchez, Tuculet 
Pens: Sánchez 2, Bosch 
Drop: Hernández

For South Africa: 
Tries: Habana, Hendricks, Coetzee 
Cons: Pollard, Steyn 2 
Pens: Pollard 3

The teams:

Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Lucas González Amorosino, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Mariano Galarza, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Matías Cortese, 17 Bruno Postiglioni, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 23 Horacio Agulla.

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Damian de Allende, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handrè Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.

Venue: Padre Ernesto Martearena Stadium, Salta
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant Referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)