A woeful all-round performance saw the Springboks succumb to a shock 32-19 loss to Argentina in Mendoza on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Just two rounds into the Rugby Championship, it’s not too far fetched to suggest that any hopes of the Boks competing for the title this season have in all probability already been snuffed out after falling prey to an Argentina ambush.
Earlier in the day, the All Blacks demonstrated their class as they cruised to a resounding bonus-point victory over the Wallabies that has enabled them to bank the full 10 log points from their first two games, while the Boks were unable to even claim a losing bonus-point in Argentina.
Following last Saturday’s Test between these two teams in Durban, Argentina coach Mario Ledesma hailed the Springboks as the ‘most physical side in world rugby’. Yet, just a week later, the Boks were bullied by a committed Pumas side that once again reinvented themselves on their home turf.
The Springboks have often endured struggles in Argentina in years gone by, but nothing could have prepared them for the nightmare start to this encounter.
After half-an-hour of proceedings, the Boks trailed 24-7, with their 12 missed tackles during this time painting a sorry picture of a defence that was woefully out of sorts as Argentina’s strike runners continued to cut the line open at will.
Argentina’s three quickfire tries left the Springboks looking well and truly rattled, while a yellow card to Eben Etzebeth also added to the woes of the visitors, who had ironically spoken of the desire to improve their discipline ahead of this clash.
The quite remarkable turnaround from last Saturday’s result in Durban was quite aptly reflected in the final play of the half, which saw Argentina win a scrum penalty against the feed after the Boks had again turned down a shot at goal to rather launch this set piece from 5m out.
For the Boks to have any real hope of launching a comeback, they surely needed to score first in the second half, but instead, Argentina again exposed some disorganised defence as Ramiro Moyano scored his side’s fourth try soon after the restart.
Although the Springboks did hit back with a try through Lionel Mapoe, they continued to squander subsequent opportunities, which left them trailing by 18 points heading into the final quarter.
Mapoe would add one more try to the Boks’ meagre tally, but there would be no way back for the visitors as Argentina ultimately closed out a fully-deserved victory.
Argentina – Tries: Bautista Delguy (2), Nicolás Sanchez, Ramiro Moyano. Conversions: Nicolás Sanchez (3). Penalty: Sanchez. Drop goal: Sanchez.
Springboks – Tries: Siya Kolisi. Lionel Mapoe (2). Conversions: Handré Pollard (2).
Argentina – 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolás Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertanou, 8 Javier Ortego Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Augustin Creevy, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Subs: 16 Facunda Bosch, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Tomás Lezana, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 23 Juan Cruz Mallia.
Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Siya Kolisi (c), 6 Francois Louw, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Damian Willemse.