Following a 34-21 victory for South Africa over Argentina in their Rugby Championship game, here’s our five takeaways from the Durban clash.
Etzebeth comeback impressive: A significant lack of game time during 2018 due to injury makes this performance from Etzebeth all the more impressive. The abrasive second-row was a rock around the field and threw in a line-out steal and strong shift at the scrum. All in all it was a showing that will have delighted player, team mates, coach Rassie Erasmus and the Springbok supporters. Etzebeth is back with a bang.
September 15 ringed: After Round One of the Rugby Championship it’s looking like being the game in Round Four between New Zealand and South Africa which could prove decisive in where the trophy is heading. With home games against the Wallabies and Pumas coming before that showdown at Westpac Stadium, New Zealand could be on the verge of another title. South Africa look like having something to say about that though as if they can back up this effort in Mendoza and then Australia (away), they will be full of confidence in Wellington.
Argentina still well behind: Precious ball for the Pumas in the first-half in particular and while they crossed three times in Durban, they were all smash and grab scores. Of course this is the first game of what Argentina fans will hope is a long and fruitful tenure for Mario Ledesma but they cannot win Test matches with these flaws and a set-piece going backwards. Improvements are needed and fast if they’re to avoid another whitewash.
De Klerk and back three shine: He’s been a real catalyst for the Springboks since his inclusion in June, with De Klerk’s dynamism and smart rugby brain giving his side that X-factor they have desperately needed in recent seasons. The scrum-half was at his dangerous best again on Saturday and that meant chances for finishers such as Makazole Mapimpi and Aphiwe Dyantyi, who need no invitation to cross. It’s some trio.
Bok pack get job done: From 1-8 and 16, 17, 18 and 20, South Africa’s forwards all contributed to the victory. Up front the starting front-row and locks were outstanding in the set-piece and in general play while Francois Louw, Siya Kolisi and Warren Whiteley complimented each other well. It was then the turn of replacements Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Thomas du Toit and Marco van Staden to impress, with the prop duo having become real impact men this year who will strike fear into all rivals. Van Staden meanwhile proved a nuisance at the ruck.