Rugby Championship: Springboks made to graft for bonus-point victory over Pumas

David Skippers
Damian Willemse SA v Argentina RC 2021 - PA.jpg

The Springboks were made to work hard before securing a 36-20 triumph against a spirited Argrentina side in their Rugby Championship Test in Buenos Aires on Saturday.

Despite delivering a dominant first half performance, the Boks went off the boil after half-time and allowed the Pumas to come back into the match before late tries from Damian de Allende and Malcolm Marx secured them the result and an important bonus point.

Marx scored another try for the visitors in the first half and their other points came via a five-pointer from Jaden Hendrikse, a conversion and a penalty from Damian Willemse, two conversions from Frans Steyn as well as a penalty try.

For Argentina, Matias Moroni crossed the whitewash and they were also awarded a penalty try, while Emiliano Boffelli slotted a couple of penalties and a conversion.

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The opening exchanges were cagey with the teams feeling each other out before Argentina took an early lead courtesy of a long range penalty from Boffelli in the ninth minute.

The Boks were soon camped inside the Pumas’ half and drew level two minutes later courtesy of a Willemse penalty, after the home side infringed on defence.

The visitors were slowly gaining the ascendancy and midway through the half had the Pumas on the back foot as they set up several phases inside their 22. The ball was shifted wide to Canan Moodie, who was stopped just short of the try-line before Hendrikse gathered and went over but he failed to ground the ball after a desperate tackle from Santiago Carreras.

However, after checking television replays, referee James Doleman ruled that Carreras tackled Hendrikse from an offside position and awarded a penalty try to the Boks, while the Pumas fly-half was also sent to the sin bin for his indiscretion.

South Africa made full use of their numerical advantage and, despite another Boffelli penalty, scored two quickfire tries during Carreras’ stint on the sidelines. First, Hendrikse glided through a gaping hole deep inside Argentina territory after Marx did well in the build-up with a powerful carry. And on the half-hour mark, the Bok hooker got his name onto the scoreboard when he dotted down off the back of a lineout drive inside Argentina’s 22.

Just before half-time, the hosts were reduced to 14 men again when Gonzalo Bertranou was yellow carded for repeated infringements from his team when he was caught offside on defence.

South Africa put the resulting penalty into touch close to Argentina’s try-line but, although Lood de Jager went over the whitewash, his effort was chalked off as Franco Mostert had knocked on in the build-up. Despite that, South Africa were on a high when they went into the sheds at half-time as they held a deserved 22-6 lead.

Argentina’s fightback

The Pumas came out firing after the interval but, despite an improved performance, they were still committing too many unforced errors. However, the Boks were also guilty of that, especially on defence, and in the 60th minute Willie le Roux received a yellow card when he was caught offside deep inside his 22.

The Pumas spent most of the next 10 minutes camped inside the Boks’ half and they too were rewarded with a penalty try after Kwagga Smith prevented Tomas Cubelli from scoring with a high tackle. Smith also received his marching orders for his offence which meant South Africa played with 13 men for a brief period. And during that time Moroni crossed for their second try after great work from Marcos Kremer in the build-up.

Boffelli added the extras which meant South Africa held a narrow 22-20 lead, but they held their composure when De Allende powered through two tackles before scoring their fourth try in the 75th minute. They still needed another five-pointer to clinch the bonus point and that came in the dying moments when Marx gathered an inside pass from Makazole Mapimpi before crashing over in the left-hand corner.

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