South Africa beat Argentina 20-36 to keep their 2022 Rugby Championship title challenge alive at Estadio Libertadores de América in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires.
Damian De Allende and Malcolm Marx scored at the death to seal the victory and the bonus point as South Africa edged Argentina to stay in contention for the 2022 Rugby Championship.
Los Pumas fought back from 6-22 down after 65 minutes to make it a two-point ball game in South America.
But the Boks kept their nerve and powered back with two tries in four minutes in the end to win a famous victory.
Both teams went into the game needing a bonus point win to keep alive any slim chance of winning The Rugby Championship.
New Zealand’s controversial and dubious last-gasp victory over Australia in Melbourne on Thursday wrapped up another title for the All Blacks.
South Africa can, however, still win the tournament but only if Australia beats New Zealand in Auckland or the All Blacks win without a bonus point, and the Boks win their next game with a bonus point. Unlikely.
The World Champions scored five tries to two, but a late comeback by Michael Cheika’s side saw the Boks lose two players to the sin bin and the Pumas scored twice in a matter of minutes.
South Africa was reeling Argentina flying. Yet somehow, the tourists found a way to win a game they looked destined to lose.
From 22-6 up and styling to 22-20 ahead and no momentum in minutes as the Pumas looked to be mounting another thrilling comeback win.
But De Allende and Marx, who scored twice, settled this thrilling Test to take the Rugby Championship to the last round.
Jaden Hendrikse also scored and a penalty try in the first half added to De Allende’s score and Marx’s brace.
Damian Willemse kicked a penalty and a conversion apiece, while Frans Steyn came off the bench to kick two late conversions.
Emiliano Boffelli kicked two penalties and one conversion to put him top of the Rugby Championship scoring charts ahead of Richie Mo’unga.
Argentina scored through the majestic Matías Moroni and was also awarded a penalty try.
The Springboks dominated Argentina in the first stanza scoring three tries to lead 22-6 at the break.
South Africa took a three-try to nil lead at the break thanks to ill-discipline from Argentina, who conceded 11 first-half penalties and had two players yellow carded.
A penalty-try and tries from Hendrikse and Marx gave the Boks a commanding 16-point advantage going into the sheds.
Los Pumas gave away 11 penalties to allow the Boks the better of the territory (70%) and possession (52%).
Halfbacks pairing Santiago Carreras and Gonzalo Bertranou both went to the sin bin as Jacques Nienaber’s charges took control of this must-win Test.
Both teams conceded penalties in the opening quarter of an hour to go level. Willemse and Boffelli both missed chances to put their team ahead, but they could not land their respective shots at goal.
The Springbok pack began to take control, winning a series of penalties which ended with a penalty try after Carreras ripped the ball out of Hendrikse’s hands as the scrumhalf tried to dot the ball down over the whitewash.
Boffelli made it 6-10 with his second penalty from in front after 24 minutes. The visitors immediately won a penalty from the restart, and Willie le Roux booted to the corner.
Another couple of penalties led to three driving mauls. From the third, the Boks went wide and Hendrikse broke around the ruck to score under the posts. Willemse added the extras.
Nienaber’s men turned the skew. Cheika’s side was leaking penalties, this time for offsides.
Willemse kicked to the corner, and Marx flopped over the chalk after a powerful driving maul. Willemse, this time, could not convert.
South Africa had another glorious chance to extend their lead but Lood de Jager’s try got chalked off for a knock-on at the lineout.
The final quarter heated up as the Boks had two men sent to the bin as Argentina increased the intensity, and scored twice in two minutes to set up a crazy finale.
The tourists had better chances in the third quarter, but poor execution kept the game scoreless in the third quarter.
Le Roux and Kwagga Smith both went to the bin and the Pumas pounced, scoring twice in quick succession to make it a two-point game going into the last 10 minutes.
Argentina had the better of the quarter but failed to convert pressure into points. Le Roux went to the bin on the hour mark for team offences, but the visitors held firm.
On 65 minutes, Agustín Creevy came on for Julián Montoya to become Los Pumas’ most capped Test player.
Creevy overtook Nicolás Sánchez’s previous tally of 94 Test caps in the blue and white hoops.
A minute later, some superb defending by South Africa kept out the hosts after they held up Tomás Cubelli over the line for a goal-line dropout.
But Mr Doleman awarded a penalty try and sent Smith to the bin for a foul on Cubelli as he tried to score.
Argentina came back fast, scoring through Moroni after 69 minutes following a scintillating break by the substitute.
Moroni broke through a gap and danced through tackles to score under the posts. Boffelli added the extras to make it 20-22.
Somehow, South Africa fought back to score through De Allende, who powered through two defenders to give the Boks some breathing space.
Steyn added the extras, but the veteran utility back was lucky to not see yellow for a tackle before the end.
Marx’s converted try sealed the deal at the death.
Final Score: Argentina 20 (6) South Africa 36 (22)
Tries – Penalty try, Moroni
Pen – Boffelli (2)
Con – Boffelli
Cards – Carreras (Yellow, 21′), Bertranou (Yellow, 42′)
Tries – Penalty try, Hendrikse, Marx (2), De Allende
Pen – Willemse
Con – Willemse, Steyn (2)
Cards – Le Roux (Yellow, 60′), Smith (Yellow, 66′)
Referee: James Doleman [NZ]
Assistant Ref 1: Damon Murphy [AUS]
Assistant Ref 2: Craig Evans [WAL]
TMO: Chris Hart [NZ]
15 Juan Cruz Mallía, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Jerónimo De La Fuente, 12 Matías Orlando, 11 Lucio Cinti, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Pablo Matera, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Juan Martín González, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Julián Montoya (captain), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: 16 Agustín Creevy, 17 Thomás Gallo, 18 Joel Sclavi, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Rodrigo Bruni, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Benjamín Urdapilleta, 23 Matías Moroni
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Elrigh Louw, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 André Esterhuizen, 23 Frans Steyn