A new-look Springbok side produced a dominant performance to claim a 32-12 victory over Argentina in their Rugby Championship opener in Gqeberha on Saturday.
The first half well and truly belonged to the Boks as they comfortably had the better of a settled Pumas side, scoring two tries to take a 21-9 lead into the break.
Despite making plenty of changes to their starting lineup, the Boks picked up where they left off in the Lions series, dominating the kicking battle.
After a cagey opening period, which mostly saw a game of aerial chess, Jacques Nienaber’s team laid the first blow when Cobus Reinach gathered a loose ball and sprinted a good 65m metres to score.
Argentina got themselves on the board through the boot of Nicolas Sanchez, who kicked another two penalties for their only points of the half. However, the Boks landed another blow through their kicking game as Elton Jantjies produced a cross-field kick and Fassi managed to hold onto the ball and cross over in the corner.
Jantjies and Sanchez then traded penalties as the Boks took a 12-point lead into half-time.
Argentina came out firing in the second half and reduced the deficit through Sanchez’s fourth penalty. The Bok coaches decided to bring on the Bomb Squad, and they made an immediate impact, winning a scrum penalty, allowing Jantjies to once again extend the lead to 12 points.
Another Jantjies penalty put the Boks 27-12 up, before Jaden Hendrikse capped a cameo performance with a try on debut off the bench.
Moments that mattered:
Ultimately, the game was decided on the two tries in the first half as it gave the Boks enough of a buffer to withstand any of the Argentina attacks.
The Springbok coaching staff will ultimately be pleased with how seamlessly the incoming players took to the system and fitted in, both on attack and defence.
Argentina had their opportunities though, most notably towards the end of the first half, but failed to properly capitalise and had to settle for penalty kicks from Sanchez.
Players that shone:
Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach had another strong outing in the absence of Faf de Klerk. Not only did he score an excellent try, but he also controlled the game well and kicked accurately from the base of the breakdown, giving the Bok wings a chance to gather just about every box kick.
Speaking of the Bok wings, Aphelele Fassi and Sbu Nkosi were both extremely effective in the aerial battle. Much like on his debut, Fassi scored with his first real touch of the ball, doing well to keep the ball in hand after initially juggling it.
Jasper Wiese also had a standout outing at No 8, carrying really strongly against a physical Argentina pack and he seems to be growing into that No 8 jersey with every game he plays.
On his Springbok debut, Joseph Dweba was his energetic self. The hooker got around the field really well and was actively involved in the tackle and breakdown.