South Africa 27-6 Argentina: Superior Springboks give Pumas a lesson in shove
THE lesson from this game was be careful for what you wish for. After spending so long on the outside looking in, the Pumas were finally invited to join the party and they duly struggled to cope with the Springboks’ traditional warm welcome, just as everyone had predicted.
The home team won pretty much every phase of this game, a worrying sign for Scotland since they are due at Murrayfield in November, and even the much-vaunted Argentine scrum was impotent against the excellence of the home side, despite the fact that they lost hooker Bismark du Plessis to a knee injury after just three minutes. Only in the final quarter of the match, after the traditional slew of substitutes, did the Pumas’ scrum begin to get the upper hand with Marcos Ayerza making the difference.
On a positive note for the South Americans, their world class stand-off Juan Martin Hernandez made his first international appearance for three years and showed he hadn’t lost his touch in the interim. If anything he was two or three steps ahead of his colleagues. He kicked Argentina’s only points in the first 40 but Hernandez was fighting a battle on the back foot since his forward pack struggled to make much headway against a huge and brutally physical Bokke pack.
The Pumas are used to holding their own up front but if the wall of green jerseys had been made of bricks and mortar the visitors could hardly have made less of an impression. At one stage in the middle of the first half the Argentines ran through 13 phases with no discernible territorial gain. Hernandez was left having to kick much of his possession into the Cape Town sky and hope for a mistake that wasn’t forthcoming.
Indiscipline was also an issue for the South American team who stretched Steve Walsh’s patience to breaking point and they were perhaps a little lucky to keep 15 men on the field for the whole 80 minutes.
The Springboks didn’t need to be at their very best and they weren’t. Sill they scored three tries in all, two in the first half and another after the break, with Lucas Amorosino earning an unwanted “assist” for the first of them. The Pumas’ fullback dropped a pass after taking his eye off the ball and then missed a tackle on his opposite number as Zane Kirchner cut in off the left wing to score out wide.
Just before half time the Boks kicked a penalty into the corner and 21-year-old flank forward Marcell Coetzee broke off from the rolling maul to score in the corner.
The second half started with three kickable penalties for Argentina but every one of them sailed wide of the posts and normal service was resumed when Bryan Habana got on the end of Morne Steyn’s inch-perfect cross field kick following a period of concerted pressure on the Pumas’ line.
The Pumas finished the match strongly as their forwards finally got onto the front foot but it was to no avail. Habana and Francois Hougaard, after moving from scrumhalf to wing, both made scorchi0ng breaks they couldn’t quite finish off.
The Pumas will take some comfort from the fact they prevented the Springboks from scoring a fourth bonus-point try but they will need to improve if they are to turn the tables on the same opposition next weekend in Mendoza.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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