Boks sneak win at wet Loftus

Sat, 16 Aug 2014 16:49
Large sa v arg

South Africa got their Rugby Championship campaign off to a winning start by beating Argentina 13-6 in a scrappy encounter in Pretoria on Saturday.

South Africa got their Rugby Championship campaign off to a winning start by beating Argentina 13-6 in a scrappy encounter in Pretoria on Saturday.

It was not just wet - it was sopping wet.

It did not just rain - in poured in torrents and it hailed.

The weather was atrocious. Players found handling difficult, players slipped, and players splashed. But...

But it was the same for both sides. It seemed that the Pumas made a better fist of it. Lighter by 22kg, the scrummed better. In fact when the Springboks later had the choice of a scrum or a line-out, they chose the line-out. The Pumas' line-outs were much more secure and they even took four of the Springbok throws. They contested the breakdowns, which the Springboks did not really do and the Pumas ended the match much more strongly, leaving the Springboks to tackle and tackle and tackle again.

Both sides made errors but the Springboks seemed to make worse ones - dropping out directly into touch, kicking off dead and kicking directly into touch. But where the Springboks were really good was in knocking the Pumas down, time and again, except for the two line breaks of the match both by clever flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez. When the Pumas were bashing at their line, the Springboks seemed in control of the situation, their defences watertight.

It was a day that invited kicking. The Springboks had Willie le Roux to catch the high ball and the Pumas had Juan Manuel Leguizamón to do the job for them. They kicked rather better, the Springboks kicking too far and making it even more meaningless by not trying to get the ball from the breakdown, even to the extent of putting nobody in to try to get the ball while the Pumas were rugged in getting stuck in.

The saddest part of all was hearing the loyal Loftus crowd, who knew at first hand what the conditions were like, jeering the Springboks.

There was just one try in the match - from the first line-out after just over a minute of play - perhaps because the players had not yet got themselves enmired in the conditions. The Springboks won the line-out just inside the Pumas' half and shunted a maul ahead. Then Ruan Pienaar broke on the blind side and gave to Cornal Hendricks. Hendricks made ground and then passed inside to Pienaar who raced for the corner, surfing over for the try. Handré Pollard converted from touch. 7-0 after a minute and a bit.

The Pumas shoved the Springboks back at the first scrum and at the third scrum, in the middle of the 22 after Pollard had dropped out directly into touch, the Springboks were penalised and Sánchez goaled. 7-3 after 7 minutes.

At the first ruck, when the Springboks seemed to have the winning of the ball, the Pumas, in greater and more vigorous numbers, won a turnover. But then the Pumas were penalised at a scrum and Pollard goaled. 10-3 after 16 minutes.

That was the half-time score though there was a chance when Willie le Roux raced down the left and chipped. He got to the ball, but, stretching for it, knocked on with the line open before him. He may well have got there and scored had his jersey not been clearly pulled for some time as he ran to the bouncing ball.

Sánchez dummied and broke inside Cornal Hendricks and a try seemed highly likely but Manuel Montero knocked on. Sánchez's second break near the end of the first half was also promising till Marcell Coetzee felled him

The Springboks won a turnover and had bearded Bryan Habana unmarked but the pass went behind him and into touch.

For the start of the second half Eben Etzebeth came on for Bakkies Botha and Tomás Cubelli for Martín Landajo.

Early in the half Lood de Jager was penalised at a tackle and Sánchez goaled. 10-6 after 41 minutes. Then Sánchez was himself penalised at a tackle and Morné Steyn, just on for Pollard, goaled. 13-6 after 49 minutes, which ended the scoring for the match.

South Africa kicked two goalable penalties into touch, the second five metres from the Pumas' line but the Puma pack swiftly drove them back and into touch.

Lucas Amorosino kicked a brilliant long penalty to give the Pumas a five-metre line-out. They peeled around the front and gave to burly Agustín Creevy who drove at the line where Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw stopped him. The Pumas bashed and the Springboks held them out till the attackers lost the ball and Steyn cleared.

Le Roux made a mark and opted to tap the ball and pass it back to Steyn whose kick was charged down by Santiago Iglesias. The ball went back into the Springboks' in-goal but Damian de Allende saved.

The Pumas had a second five-metre line-out from a penalty but this time the Springboks did unto them as they had been done unto and drove them rapidly away.

Eventually Marcelo Bosch knocked on after the siren and the referee blew the final whistle.

Man of the Match: The Springboks had candidates - Willie le Roux but his second half was not as good as his first, powerful Duane Vermeulen, tackling, driving and winning line-outs, and Francois Louw who contested tackles. The Pumas had elegant fullback Joaquín Tuculet, Nicolás Sánchez of the boot and the breaks and veteran Juan Manuel Leguizamón who took kicks and won line-outs. Our choice is Duane Vermeulen for he added effective driving to his repertoire.

Moment of the Match: The try.

Villain of the Match: Martín Landajo who hung onto Willie le Roux's jersey when the Springbok full back tried to get to the ball bouncing towards the Pumas' line. And Landajo 'got away with it'.

The scorers:

For South Africa:
Con: Pollard
Pens: Pollard, Steyn

For Argentina:
Sánchez 2


South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Damian de Allende, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Jan Serfontein.

Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago González Iglesias, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Mariano Galarza, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (captain), 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Matías Cortese, 17 Lucas Noguera Paz, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 23 Lucas González Amorosino.

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)