Boks start with impressive win over Pumas
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP REPORT: South Africa got their campaign off to an impressive start with a 37-15 win over Argentina in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
I saw a man kiss his wife at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The Springboks had scored a try on their way to a 37-15 victory over the Pumas, and the man and his wife were wearing lots of garb to suggest that they were Springbok supporters. His kiss was one of excitement and joy.
Lots of South Africans will feel the same joyful excitement after the Springboks' fourth win in 2017 - especially after the dismal 2016 season.
The score has a look of déjà vu about it after the three victories over France. They were 37-14, 37-15 and 35-12, and now we have 37-15, not that a single Springbok supporter will object. For them it will be a lekker déjà vu.
Well and enthusiastically as Argentina played South Africa never seemed in danger of not winning. In fact, they dominated the first half and most of the second half as well.
For one thing the Springbok forwards were on top, largely because they had more chance to be on top. In the first half they had five line-outs to the Pumas' one, six scrums to three and five penalties to two. They enjoyed 64% of possession and so of territory. It seems niggardly that they ended the half leading only 13-7, but the Pumas are not pushovers. They defended bravely.
Nelson Bay Stadium was nearly full and the 42 000 who were there were bubbling with excitement. They contained themselves as five dignitaries were introduced to the teams and then Argentina's passionate anthem was sung and then they threw their heads back and sang the South African anthem, telling the world where the loyalties lay.
South Africa kicked off, won a turnover and attacked with Jan Serfontein, a man of Port Elizabeth, looking most likely to burst away. They went through 16 phases and then were penalised.
Their first score was from a penalty conceded by Tomás Lezana and their second score was also from a penalty conceded by a Tomás Lezana. 6-0 after 19 minutes.
After just 13 minutes, Leonardo Senatore was helped off the fiwld with what looked like a damaged knee, his place taken byJavier Ortega Desio.
In between there was what seemed to be a try by Jaco Kriel, not allowed for a dubious knock-on call - dubious because it seemed off an Argentinian hand.
The Springboks also tapped a kickable penalty and attacked, but Agustín Creevy won a turnover.
For all the Springbok dominance, the Pumas scored the first try.
The Springboks were on an attack of phases when Serfontein, going right, grubbered. The kick went straight to fullback Joaquín Tuculet who raced straight ahead. He gave to wing Emiliano Boffelli who ran and grubbered to his left. Martín Landajo raced onto the ball flykicked it ahead, grabbed the kind bounce and scored the first try of the match. 6-5 after 32 minutes.
From a scrum on the Springboks left, Jantjies gave a little pass inside to Courtnall Skosan. Jerónimo del Fuente knocked him down but apparently did not hold onto him. Skosan got to his feet beat three defenders and scored under the posts. 13-5 after 37 minutes - the half-time score.
The Pumas looked better in the second half as Creevy had a run from the front of a line-out, Tuculet ran well again and Malcolm Marx was penalised, the penalty goaled by Nicolás Sánchez. 13-8 after 45 minutes but Jantjies compensated with a penalty of his own. 16-8 after 48 minutes.
The Springboks went in search of tries, eschewing penalty kicks at goal from now on. A penalty gave them a five-metre line-out, they mauled and then bashed and then went wide right where Raymond Rhule accepted Serfontein's perfect pass and scored. Both wings, with three caps each, now had a try each. Jantjies topped it up with a conversion. 23-8 after 52 minutes.
Two penalties gave the Pumas a five-metre line-out. They bashed and Guido Petti was close, but then they went wide left with quick passes by Juan-Martín Hernández and Tuculet that left Boffelli free to dab the ball down for a try in the left corner. Hernández converted from touch. 23-15 after 59 minutes.
Both sides were making substitutes at this stage.
The sequence of penalty, five-metre line-out and maul set the Springboks going wide left and then wide right where Siya Kolisi, a man of Port Elizabeth, surged over and round for a try at the posts, to the noisy joy of all the stadium. 30-5 after 66 minutes.
The Springboks - again - mauled from a line-out and Marx went on a charge. They went right and the Pumas were penalised in front of their posts. The Springboks opted for a scrum. They shoved the Pumas back, Francois Hougaard broke and Pieter-Steph du Toit, under several defenders, managed to get the ball down on the line. 37-15 with nine minutes to play.
There was a huge Port Elizabeth cheer when Curwin Bosch came onto the field with three minutes to play. He was one of three boys from the local Grey in the side - Serfontein, Kolisi and Bosch.
Man of the Match: Joaquín Tuculet and Agustín Creevy were special but then there were Springboks who stood out as well - Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, Siya Kolisi and Jaco Kriel on the flanks, and our Man of the Match diligent tighthead Coenie Oosthuizen who was strong and busy about the field and the powerhouse in the Springboks scrum that destroyed the Pumas where they are supposed to be strongest.
Moment of the Match: The try that Joaquín Tuculet started and Martín Landajo ended. Apart from the man who kissed his wife, that is.
Villain of the Match: Nobody at all. It was a well-mannered match.
For South Africa:
Tries: Skosan, Rhule, Kolisi, Du Toit
Cons: Jantjies 4
Pens: Jantjies 3
Tries: Landajo, Boffelli
South Africa: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi, 5 Francois Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Coenraad Oosthuizen, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Damian de Allende.
Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Tomás Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Enrique Pieretto, 2 Agustín Creevy (captain), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Ramiro Herrera, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Juan Martín Hernández, 23 Matías Moroni.
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gaüzère (France), Nic Berry (Australia)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)