Heyneke Meyer feels that the Springboks gained more from Saturday's arm-wrestle than another possible nine-try romp, reports JON CARDINELLI in Mendoza.
The Boks had thrashed Argentina 73-13 in Johannesburg, scoring nine tries in the process. Many expected a similar showing in the follow-up game in Mendoza, and few would have expected that it would be 72 minutes before South Africa took the lead for the first time in the match.
The Boks have recorded their eighth straight win, and more importantly, they have won their first away match in this Sanzar tournament in nearly four years.
Afterwards, Meyer was clearly pleased with these achievements, although he admitted that the game was a lot closer than it should have been.
'I'm not happy with the performance and there were some harsh words said at half-time. It really wasn't good enough,' said the Bok coach.
Meyer felt the Pumas defended brilliantly and that the hosts' aggression at the breakdown enhanced their cause. The Boks were unable to get quick ball and were unable to generate any attacking momentum.
It was an underwhelming performance, and yet Meyer didn't seem too concerned.
Meyer believes that it was important to walk away from a difficult contest with a win, and that the poor display will ensure that the Boks are that much sharper ahead of the next set of fixtures in Australia and New Zealand.
'I think it's a great thing that it happened now and not in the next Test against Australia,' he said. 'We would have taken a big hiding in Brisbane if we played like we did tonight.
'We have a lot to work on before that game. Right now, we'll take the four points and move on.
'It was always going to be a lose-lose situation,' he added. 'You're never going to match a 60-point win and you also can't afford to lose the game.'
Last Friday, Bok captain Jean de Villiers had spoken of starting well. De Villiers said the Boks needed to build momentum early on in the match, to score early points and take an ardent crowd out of the equation.
However, the Boks proceeded to do the exact opposite on game day.
'We couldn't have had a worse start,' De Villiers said. 'This shows that we have a long way to go as a team. We have progressed from where we were at this point last year, but there is still a lot of work to be done.'
The Boks will return to South Africa on Sunday evening. They will meet in Johannesburg on Thursday next week ahead of their departure to Australia on 31 August.
Bryan Habana and the other Boks contracted to French teams will be flying to Europe to fulfil their club commitments, if only for a few days. Francois Louw, who is with English club Bath, will return to South Africa with the team.
Photo: Andres Larrovere/AFP Photo
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