South Africa beat Argentina 29-10 in a dour Round Two of the 2021 Rugby Championship at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Gqeberha.
South Africa went top of the Rugby Championship table with another comfortable victory against a blunt, ill-disciplined Argentina, although the All Blacks and Australia did not play this round.
Makazole Mapimpi and Malcolm Marx dotted down for the Boks, while Pablo Matera got the Pumas’ only try in two Tests versus the Boks.
Like the British & Irish Lions, or all those that came before them, the Pumas could not find a way through the ‘Boring’ Boks.
It took until the 86th-minute, six minutes after the hooter, for Argentina to cross South Africa’s goal line.
Handré Pollard added the rest of the defending champions’ points from the tee.
The 27-year-old World Cup-winner kicked five penalties and two conversions for a match haul of 19 points.
The only down side for the Boks was seeing Trevor Nyakane limp off early on, and last week’s super sub Jaden Hendrikse leave the field on a stretcher late in the game.
Pollard, perfect from the kicking tee, put South Africa 15-3 up as the Springboks took a deserved but ugly 12-point halftime lead.
Domingo Miotti, in at first receiver for Nicolás Sanchez, added a lone 24th-minute penalty to get Argentina off the mark.
Miotti missed penalties either side of the break before Willie Le Roux put Mapimpi away on 46 minutes.
Marx was soon in on the act. The hooker flopped over on 52 minutes from another bulldozing driving maul to increase the lead.
Pollard converted both to give the World’s number one ranked team an unasailable 29-3 lead going into the last quarter.
The South African flyhalf’s only mistake, however, was not finding touch in the corner with a last-minute penalty, which cost the Boks a last shot at a bonus point.
With both teams searching for the final try, the game opened up. eventually, Matera crashed through to end the game.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber made wholesale changes to the team for this second Rugby Championship clash
Lood de Jager ran out for his 50th cap, while Marvin Orie earned his first Test start, and the uncapped Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg made his debut off the bench in the second stanza.
De Jager was awarded the Player of the Match for another big game.
Nienaber made 11 changes from last week’s 32-12 win – six in the backline and five upfront, and it worked a treat. In all, 17 changes were made to the matchday squad.
Siya Kolisi, Jasper Wiese, Cobus Reinach, and De Jager were the only players to begin last week’s match.
Mario Ledesma also decided to rotate his squad, only the midfield pairing, front row and two of the three loose forwards started in their same positions as last Saturday.
Ledesma also made two positional switches. Only Santiago Chocobares and Jeronimo de la Fuente remained from last week.
Santiago Carreras moved from fullback to left wing, while Bautista Delguy, Matias Moroni (injured), Sanchez, and Felipe Ezcurra dropped out of the starting XV.
They were replaced by Juan Cruz Mallía at fullback, the uncapped Ignacio Mendy at right wing, Miotti at flyhalf, and Gonzalo Bertranou at scrumhalf. Sanchez and Ezcurra made the bench.
Upfront, Facundo Isa dropped out of the match-day squad while Marcos Kremer moved to the bench. Guido Petti swapped from lock to flank.
Tomas Lavanini and Matias Alemanno began in the boiler room.
Last week’s front row of Francisco Gomez Kodela, Julian Montoya and Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, as well as No.8 Rodrigo Bruni and flanker Pablo Matera, retained their places in the starting team.
South Africa take control of the half through solid scrummaging, dominating the breakdown and winning the aerial battle
The first half was a dour affair. Both teams conceded too many penalties.
Ledesma’s men struggled, they gave away 13 penalties to the opposition’s six in the first stanza as the Boks opened up a two-score lead.
Pollard kicked three penalties as the Boks took a slender 9-0 lead just after the first quarter.
The first three came after several offside penalties by Argentina kept the home nation out.
Eventually, Siya Kolisi opted for the posts. The second came from a dominant Bok scrum in front of the posts, the third after another series of offsides inside the Pumas’ 22.
Miotti pulled three back soon afterwards to put the South Americans on the scoreboard after 24 minutes.
But South Africa’s maul began to come together, one way to stop the set-piece is at source; however, not by taking out De Jager in the air.
Pollard’s fourth goal increased his side’s lead to 12-3 on the half-hour as the World Champions began to assert control.
Rodrigo Bruni got sin-binned for another cynical Pumas play, and Pollard made them pay when he added another penalty.
The Springboks should have had a chance to increase their lead before halftime.
A bizarre TMO call, however, chalked off a kickable penalty in front of the posts.
TMO Tom Foley did his best Marius Jonker by ruling that Lukhanyo Am tackled Juan Cruz Mallía high and dangerously.
It gave the Pumas a shot at claiming some late points, but Miotti could land his long-range penalty.
Springboks come out flying after the break as the Pumas fade
The 25-year-old Pumas flyhalf also missed an early second half goal, which proved costly because the Boks struck soon afterwards.
Another powerful driving maul ended with try machine Mapimpi walking over in the corner for his fourth try against Los Pumas.
A sustained attack ended with Willie Le Roux sending the flyer away with a well-timed draw and pass.
Pollard added the touchline conversion to make it 22-3 after 47 minutes.
Marx powered over moments later as the Bok pack began to grind down the opposition. Pollard again converted to increase the advantage to 26 points.
The Boks started to squeeze a tiring opposition, who continued to stray offside inside their 22; it allowed South Africa to chase the bonus-point.
Argentina did not help themselves either, knocking on with the try line at their mercy.
The Boks began to take their foot off the gas allowing the South Americans some opportunities to build on their three points.
Tomas Lavanini was sent to the bin but this did not hamper his team, who found a way to score with 14 rather than 15 players.
Argentina could not breach the green and gold wall until mistakes by the Boks, chasing the bonus point, led to Matera barging over next to the sticks.
Final Score: Argentina 10 (3) South Africa 29 (15)
Tries – Matera
Pen – Miotti
Con – Sanchez
Cards – Bruni (Yellow, 33′), Lavanini (Yellow, 82′)
Tries – Mapimpi, Marx
Pen – Pollard (5)
Con – Pollard (2)
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant Ref 1: Marius vd Westhuizen
Assistant Ref 2: AJ Jacobs
TMO: Tom Foley
15 Juan Cruz Mallía, 14 Ignacio Mendy (Debut), 13 Santiago Chocobares, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Carreras, 10 Domingo Miotti, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Guido Petti, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: 16 Facundo Bosch, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Nicolas Sanchez, 23 Lucio Cinti (Debut)
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager (50th Test), 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Trevor Nyakane
Replacements: 16 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Nicolaas van Rensburg (Debut), 20 Albertus Smith, 21 Dan du Preez, 22 Jaden Hendrikse, 23 Damian Willemse