South Africa overpowered Argentina 37-15 in Port Elizabeth at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, continuing their unbeaten run this year.
The Springboks dominated from start to finish. They scored four tries to two, giving them a much-needed opening round Rugby Championship victory.
Courtnall Skosan, Raymond Rhule, Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit, all getting on the scoreboard.
Elton Jantjies was flawless from the kicking tee, adding 17 points from seven kicks.
The Bok scrum was menacing, dismantling Los Pumas’ pack, with standout performances from Beast Mtawarira and Coenraad Oosthuizen.
Daniel Hourcade’s men scored after a counter-attack through scrumhalf Martín Landajo in the first half.
The South Americans came out strong after the half-time interval.
Emiliano Boffelli, who set up Landajo, scored after some smart hands saw him go over in the corner, but it was not enough.
South Africa’s power and pace, was too much for the South Americans. Loose forwards, Jaco Kriel and Kolisi were superb, disrupting the visitors at the breakdown.
Argentina could not keep up with the ferocity and intensity of their hosts in the second half, conceding 24 points.
This win gives Allister Coetzee’s team their fourth Test victory this year.
Think back to the Boks’ annus horribilis in 2016: they won only four of 12 Tests. This included a 26-24 defeat against Argentina in Salta.
Last year was disastrous for Coetzee; the Bok coach assembled one of the worst squads ever to wear the illustrious green and gold.
Argentina had won two of their last five games against South Africa, having won none of the previous 19 encounters between the two nations.
South Africa’s scrum set-piece was impressive, led by their front row.
The Argentine scrum has been causing South Africa headaches for years, and embarrassment in recent times.
South Africa’s tight-five showed as early as the seventh minute, that they were fired up.
‘Beast’ and Oosthuizen laid down a marker, winning the first of many scrum penalties.
Jantjies missed a drop-goal soon after before kicking two penalties to give his team a 6-nil lead inside the first quarter.
Nicolás Sánchez, who is usually very accurate (kicking at over 80 percent at international level), pulled his first kick wide of the posts.
However, Los Pumas were soon on the scoreboard from a wonderful counter-attack. Jan Serfontein gave away possession with a poor kick, which saw the visitors turn defence into attack.
Joaquín Tuculet gathered the loose ball, spun out of Serfontein’s tackle, and broke from his 22. He was tackled by Andries Coetzee but offloaded to Boffelli.
The winger cut inside, before kicking a cross-field grubber for Landajo. The scrum-half kicked the rolling ball forward, collected, and scored.
Sánchez missed the wide conversion, but his team were only a point behind.
With three minutes remaining before the break, Skosan scored his first Test try.
The Lions’ winger gathered Jantjies’ inside ball off the shoulder and racing away.
He was tackled by Jerónimo de la Fuente, but not held. Skosan got to his feet and raced away to score. This meant the Boks an eight-point lead at the break.
Argentina came out firing in the second half, but South Africa’s defence was strong.
Coetzee’s men resisted an early 10-phase move by the opposition with some strong defence.
But, the Pumas came again, gaining rhythm and momentum through the excellent Tomás Lezana and Tuculet.
The pressure told, and Argentina was awarded a penalty, which reduced the deficit to 13-8.
Jantjies cancelled out the score with a difficult penalty, in the swirling wind, from distance.
The Bok driving maul was starting to find its mojo. From another attack near the goal line, the home team spread the ball in both directions before Rhule burst through a gap to score.
Jantjies’ conversion gave his team a comfortable three-score lead.
Argentina would not fold, matching South Africa’s scores with their own.
On 59 minutes, Boffelli scored in the corner. Several pick-and-goes by Tomás Cubelli, Guido Petti and Tomás Lavanini put South Africa on the back-foot.
This culminated in the ball being shifted through the hands by Juan Martín Hernández and Tuculet, for the winger’s try.
Hernández’s conversion was good, but the visitors were still two scores behind.
The Boks upped the tempo; their fitness and conditioning, running the opposition ragged.
Six minutes’ later, Kolisi was over for his second Test try.
It came from another driving maul and smart build up play before giving the backs the ball. Rhule was tackled, got to his feet, and offloaded to Jean-Luc du Preez, in support.
Rhule was tackled, got to his feet, and offloaded to Jean-Luc du Preez, in support.
The flanker played Serfontein, who released the Stormers skipper for the score that ended the game as a contest. Jantjies made it 30-15.
There was still time for Du Toit to get in on the act. It came from another bulldozing scrum-penalty.
The forward’s pick-and-go, saw him stretch out for the Boks’ fourth try and the final nail in the coffin.
Final Score: South Africa 37 (13) Argentina 15 (5)
Tries – Skosan, Rhule, Kolisi, Du Toit
Pen – Jantjies (3)
Con – Jantjies (4)
Tries – Landajo, Boffelli
Pen – Sánchez
Con – Hernández
Referee: Romain Poite (FFR)
Assistant Ref 1: Pascal Gauzere (FFR)
Assistant Ref 2: Nic Berry (ARU)
TMO: Glenn Newman (NZR)
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi, 5 Francois Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Coenraad Oosthuizen, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Damian de Allende.
Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Tomás Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Enrique Pieretto, 2 Agustín Creevy (captain), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Ramiro Herrera, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Juan Martín Hernández, 23 Matías Moroni