Preview: Argentina v South Africa

Date published: August 26 2016

Argentina's ability to close out games when they are leading will be put to the test again when they face the Springboks in Salta on Saturday.

The Argentinians have in recent times made a habit of losing Tests in the last 10 minutes and after last week's last-minute defeat to South Africa in Nelspruit they will be desperate to make things right this time around.

The Springboks on the other hand will want to avoid playing catch-up on the scoreboard again because the luck of a team with their limitations is bound to run out some time.

While the progession of Argentina's rugby has been there for all to see since they joined what we now call the Rugby Championship in 2012, there has to come a time when they start to learn from their mistakes.

Tactically los Pumas are not a very accomplished team. They don't really vary their style of play too much and their game management is poor. They rely on energy, speed and passion to win games but what they are good at is their ability to punish the mistakes of the opposition.

In Salta two year ago they narrowly lost to the Boks 33-31 after Morne Steyn slotted a 76th minute penalty to win the game. While Argentina won their first Test against South Africa in Durban last year, they were back at square one last week when they allowed the Boks to fight back from 23-13 down to win 30-23.

While Argentina are most people's "second" team, there must come a time when we start criticising them for losing games they should win, especially since most acknowledge that they are a good team.

South Africa are in a rebuilding phase, but that has never been a good enough excuse not to win Test matches. Only seven of the players who featured for the Springboks in Salta two years ago are still in the Bok setup this time around. They are Locks Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager‚ flank Francois Louw‚ wing Bryan Habana and centre Damian de Allende, while Morné Steyn‚ Adriaan Strauss and Tendai Mtawarira were on the bench.

The Boks lack cohesion as a unit and still struggle to effectively execute their game plan and the inexperienced nature of the squad also means they lack the necessary composure and patience when under pressure. Allister Coetzee has gone pretty much the same which featured in Nelspruit and will hope for a more clinical display come Saturday. While most fans expect the Boks to win every game, the least Coetzee can show them is that the team is making progress under his coaching.

If you are going to win ugly, at least give people hope that things will improve. 

Players to watch:

For South Africa: The performance of Elton Jantjies will be under the microscope as he continues to establish himself in the number 10 jersey. There have been pleas for Jantjies to be given enough time to settle and at the moment it looks like he will get it. However, like the rest of the team he needs to show there is progress. Consistency is key for any player at Test level and while Jantjies has obvious skills when it comes to attack, he needs to improve his tactical kicking and defence. It would also help if his forwards hold their own up front and supply him with good go-forward ball.

For Argentina: The home side's captain, Agustín Creevy, was one of their best players in Nelspruit last weekend. In what was his 50th Test, Creevy's brilliant leadership and decision-making in Nelspuit kept his side in the match right until that game's closing stages and a repeat performance in front of his home crowd should help his team to only their second ever win against the Boks. Creevy is also expected to make an impact on attack and his prowess as a ball carrier and ability to offload in the tackle means the Springbok defence will have to mark him closely as he could wreak havoc once he gains momentum.

Head-to-head: The performances of the two scrum-halves should have a huge influence on this game's result as both play important roles in immplementing their teams' game-plans. Los Pumas number nine Martín Landajo and his Bok counterpart, Faf de Klerk are both feisty characters and very competitive and will give their all so that their team can gain the upperhand. Both will be keen to put their respective sides on the front-foot by delivering solid service to their outside backs but they can also change the course of a match with a moment of brilliance as illustrated by De Klerk when setting up Johan Goosen's try last weekend.

Previous results:

2016: South Africa won 30-23 in Nelspruit
2015: South Africa won 24-13 in London
2015: South Africa won 26-12 in Buenos Aires
2015: Argentina won 37-25 in Durban
2014: South Africa won 33-31 in Salta
2014: South Africa won 13-6 in Pretoria
2013: South Africa won 22-17 in Mendoza    
2013: South Africa won 73-13 in Soweto
2012: South Africa and Argentina drew 16-16 in Mendoza
2012: South Africa won 27-6 in Cape Town

Prediction: It should be a tight game with dry, hot conditions expected in Salta which will hopefully encourage some running rugby. The Boks are looking vulnerable and this might be Argentina's best chance in a while to secure a first-ever home victory of South Africa. Argentina to edge it by 3-6 points

Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Felipe Arregui, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Lucas González Amorosino

South Africa: 15 Johan Goosen, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Jesse Kriel

Date: Saturday 27 August 2016
Venue: Estadio Ernesto Martearena Stadium, Salta
Kick-Off: 16:40 local (19:40 GMT)
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant Referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia