Boks jump to the top

Sat, 18 Aug 2012 16:45
Large eben etzebeth charges 630 Large nicolas vergallo pass 630 Large bismarck du plessis injured Large pumas anthem 630 Large zane kirchner try 630

South Africa moved to the top of the table after the opening round of the inaugural Rugby Championship.

South Africa moved to the top of the table after the opening round of the inaugural Rugby Championship.

The Springboks comprehensively beat a resolute Argentina 27-6 in their historic Test in Cape Town on Saturday, with the Boks outscoring the Pumas by three tries to none.

That's the fact. But this was not good enough.

Though numerically a comforting win, there was not enough in Springbok play to inspire confidence.

The first half had several good moments, the second half one. Just one. The second half was an elongated plod, perhaps exacerbated by substituting. It just failed to develop any rhythm, creativity or continuity. No way was it good enough.

It is sad when a Test at Newlands, a rarity these days, cannot fill the ground. There were 38 843 people there, fewer than there were for the Super Rugby semifinal.

A warrior came onto field which fireworks flashing from him. The anthems were well sung and South Africa kicked off.  They flung themselves into the game with enthusiasm. From the first scrum both wings got a chance to play. It was filled with hope, which eventually dribbled away.

Argentina were penalised at a tackle, and Morné Steyn goaled. Coach Heyneke Meyer had promised that Steyn would get it right and Steyn was as good as his coach's promise. But there was something Pyrrhic about this Springboks' success for Bismarck du Plessis was taken off on the motorised stretcher. All this inside three minutes.

Mauls were interesting in the game. Except for one, the Pumas climbed into Springbok mauls with a will and repulsed them while their own were more effective.

The Pumas also spread the ball wide amongst the backs and went through many phases from side to side across the field, seldom a metre forward. They made better progress with high kicks which were better retrievable than those of the Springboks who seem to do it by numbers.

When Zane Kirchner was penalised at a tackle following an up-and-under, . Juan Martín Hernández made it 3-3 after 13 minutes.

After the kick-off after this scope, Nicolas Vergallo passed back to Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino who knocked on about six metres from his line. The Pumas were freekicked, the Springboks tapped, bashed twice and then the ball went wide left where Kirchner stepped inside Gonzalez Amorosino and scored far out. 10-3 after 17 minutes.

The Springboks attacked again and Eusebio Guiñazu was penalised for being offside. 13-3 after 24 minutes.

At this stage the Springboks chose to turn an eminently kickable penalty into a line-out and they did not kick another penalty at goal for the rest of the match. They mauled the line-out and suddenly Marcell Coetzee broke off to the right and scored in the corner. 20-3 after 29 minutes.

Jannie du Plessis became the first Springboks sent to the 'concussion bin'. His temporary departure brought Pat Cilliers on for his first cap. During this passage of play, Adriaan Strauss was offside and  Hernández kicked his second penalty, the Pumas' last score, to make it 20-6 after 31 minutes.

In the second half the Pumas contrived to miss three penalty kicks at goal in five minutes - the first a long one by Marcelo Bosch and the next two by Hernández, surprising misses for such an excellent kicker.

Guiñazu was penalised at a scrum and the Springboks forced a five-metre line-out. They mauled and the referee played advantage. Back the ball came to the Springboks and from the far left, Morné Steyn kicked a perfect high diagonal to the far right where Gonzales Amorosino was faced with Kirchner and Bryan Habana. The fullback managed to get a hand to the ball but only to knock into the possession of Habana who scored his 41st Test try. 27-6 after 59 minutes.

There was no more scoring during a period characterised mostly by the coming and going of players on both sides, including the arrival of JJ Engelbrecht who gained his first cap when Habana was injured in a brilliant counterattack and limped off - not that the new cap got the ball.

The other Springbok characteristic at this time was several turnovers conceded when in good positions to score tries.

Man of the Match: Marcell Coetzee. What a joy the young man is with his effective tacking and fearless ball-carrying. He went off early but Andres Bekker was brilliant while he was on the field, ruling the line-out and rising high for the kick-offs, apart from other contributions.

Moment of the Match: Bryan Habana's try.

Villain of the match: Nobody.

The scorers:

For South Africa:
Tries: Kirchner, Coetzee, Habana
Cons: Steyn 3
Pens: Steyn 2

For Argentina:
Pens: Hernández 2


South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 François Hougaard, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Pat Lambie, 22 JJ Engelbrecht.

Argentina: 15 Lucas Amorosino, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernández, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Juan Martín Hernández, 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe (captain), 7 Álvaro Galindo, 6 Julio Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guiñazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: 16 Bruno Postiglioni, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Tomás Leonardi, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Martín Landajo, 22 Martín Rodríguez.

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garces (France), John Lacey (Ireland)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)

By Paul Dobson, at Newlands