Pumas took giant leap forward
Pumas took giant leap forwardSHARE
Newcomers Argentina dispelled fears that they could be out of their depth in the Rugby Championship by holding a fortuitous South Africa to a 16-all draw in Mendoza on Saturday.
Fielding virtually the same side well beaten (27-6) in Cape Town last weekend, the Pumas were vastly improved and led 16-6 early in the second half at the Estadio Mundialista Malvinas Argentinas.
A Morné Steyn penalty cut the deficit to seven points before Francois Steyn charged down a kick by Marcelo Bosch and raced through to touch down for a converted try.
It was a bitter-sweet day for Argentina in front of a near-capacity crowd in the 45,000-seater stadium, as they ended a run of 14 consecutive losses against the Springboks since the first Test between them in Buenos Aires 19 years ago.
But happiness at banishing the jinx was mixed with disappointment at not winning a game they controlled for long stages through superb commitment in the tackle and at the breakdown.
"There was a massive improvement from Cape Town, but am also disappointed that we did not win," Argentinean captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe said.
"This match demonstrated how fine a line there is between winning and drawing," he added.
"We wanted so badly to win before our supporters and it was an awesome occasion – being the first Pumas team to play at home in this Championship is something we will remember with pride for the rest of our lives."
Asked what helped them make the improvement from a week ago, Fernández Lobbe said "giving everything all the time".
Asked what they will look to improve on ahead of facing New Zealand in Wellington in a fortnight, he said: "We are going to the home of the World Cup champions and it will be a really difficult game.
"We are going to give it our best and as I said last week, we are here to try and improve with every match – we will try to take it another step forward."