South Africa needed a charge-down try to snatch a 16-all draw against Argentina at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza on Saturday.
The outcome is the Pumas' best result in 15 Tests with the Springboks, but the hosts will nevertheless be bitterly disappointed after leading the match until the 65th minute.
Argentina held a deserved 13-3 lead at half-time as the limitations of South Africa's predictable game plan were exposed. Unable to dominate their opponents physically or at the set piece, the Boks no had alternative solution to get past the resolute Argentine defence.
Intensity is sometimes an overused word in rugby columns but the Pumas were positively breathing fire! It's a rare sight to witness the Springboks outmuscled at the breakdown area but they were coming off second best as the hosts threw numbers into the contact area, especially in the first hour.
Poor decision making and an inexcusable number of missed tackles left Heyneke Meyer's men staring defeat in the face until Frans Steyn saved their blushes with an opportunistic try.
The verdict from Boks fans will be clear: Simply not good enough.
Argentina were first on the scoreboard when Martín Rodríguez landed a penalty with his second attempt at goal.
The Pumas showed a refreshing commitment to keep the ball alive and were rewarded with a try via Route One at the end of an eight-phase charge. Centre Santiago Fernández collected the ball after a strong run form prop Juan Figallo to ghost into a gap and score under the sticks. Rodríguez added the easy extras.
The full-back missed another opportunity to extend the lead but visiting pivot Morné Steyn was also off target with his first penalty attempt, leaving the scores at 10-0 on the half-hour mark.
South Africa's fly-half landed his next shot though to become the Springboks' highest all-time points scorer, but Rodríguez replied in kind just before the interval to maintain the ten-point gap as the teams swapped ends.
Steyn and Rodríguez traded penalties early in the second period but referee Steve Walsh was starting to tire of Argentina's infringements on the deck and the South African fly-half could reduce the deficit to seven points.
Fernández narrowly missed a drop goal as the hosts tried to run down the clock, but the Pumas were getting ahead of themselves. The game was far from over.
The boisterous crowd was finally subdued when Frans Steyn charged down Marcelo Bosch and jogged in for a match-changing try. His namesake's conversion levelled matters and the scorers were not troubled again.
Man of the match: Veteran prop Rodrigo Roncero had a storming game but we can't look past Pumas skipper Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe who was brilliant at the breakdown, outstanding on defence and made life very difficult for the Boks in the line-outs.
Moment of the match: You've never heard a roar from a rugby crowd like the one after Santiago Fernández's try. It was a great moment for Argentine rugby not only because it put the Pumas ten points ahead but because of the way the hosts threw themselves into contact to set it up. 'Commitment' does not even begin to describe it.
Villain of the match: Heyneke Meyer. Not even the Bulls play old-school Bulls rugby anymore. Something needs to change. Fast.
Pens: Rodríguez 3
For South Africa:
Try: F. Steyn
Con: M. Steyn
Pens: M. Steyn 3
Argentina: 15 Martín Rodríguez, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernández, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Nicolás Vergallo, 8 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe (c), 7 Álvaro Galindo, 6 Julio Farías Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guiñazú, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements:16 Bruno Postiglioni, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Leonardo Senatore, 19 Tomás Leonardi, 20 Martín Landajo, 21 Lucas González Amorosino, 22 Juan Imhoff.
South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Pat Lambie, 22 JJ Engelbrecht.
Venue: Estadio Malvinas Argentinas
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garces (France), John Lacey (Ireland)
By Ross Hastie