The red-cladded Springboks retained their unbeaten record for the year by beating Argentina 41-23 in Salta on Saturday night.
More importantly, they have started the Rugby Championship with back-to-back wins.
Outscoring the Pumas by five tries to two – and securing a vital bonus point – the Springboks took full advantage of their slightly better possession and territory.
That said, they were still pushed by the very physical Pumas.
Leading 17-10 at the break, the Boks kept up their physical approach and intensity of the previous week in Port Elizabeth, scrumming powerfully and defending well.
Discipline was a major problem for both sides.
Argentina were shown three yellow cards – the final one leading to lock Tomas Lavanini being sent off – while Springboks fullback Andries Coetzee was punished for a late charge.
Who was the star in this match?
Not only did flanker Siya Kolisi scored two of the Springboks’ tries, he put in a tireless performance in both defence and attack. He is quickly developing in one of the most important players in the national side. He was denied a hat-trick by Lavanini’s cynical play.
Key moments and themes
- Ill discipline again came back to haunt the Pumas yet again. Lavinini clearly had no intention of playing intelligently. First, he was sin binned for a dangerous tackle on Coenie Oosthuizen in the ninth minute before deliberately knocking down the ball that would’ve led to Kolisi’s third try. No 8 Juan Manual Leguizamon was cynical in stopping a maul from an offside position. The Pumas can’t expect to become a world force if they blatantly flout the rules.
- The pre-planned move which lead to Kolisi’s first try was brilliantly done. Flyhalf Elton Jantjies spotted space behind the rushing defence, chipped a kick forward which was well collected by centre Jesse Kriel and off-loaded at just the right time to a flying Kolisi.
- The Boks’ second try by Jantjies just before halftime was even more crucial and more than just made up for the two early penalties he missed in the fifth and seven minutes.
- Only the Boks would know why nobody nominated from a kickoff that directly led to the Pumas’ opening try scored by winger Ramiro Moyana in the 29th minute. It brought the homeside right back into the game at 10-10. That made Jantjies’ try even more important.
- The Springboks looked set for a comfortable win by the 60th minute but the Pumas kept fighting back. However, South Africa’s newfound composure is a huge bonus in 2017.
Argentina: Tries: Ramiro Moyano, Matias Moroni. Conversions: Juan Martin Hernandez, Nicholas Sanchez. Penalties: Emiliano Bofelli (2), Hernandez.
South Africa: Tries: Siya Kolisi (2), Elton Jantjies, penalty try, Jean-Luc du Preez. Conversions: Jantjies (4). Penalties: Jantjies (2)