Saturday, August 24, 2013

Argentina let win slip as South Africa win via the boot

Mendoza  - Estadio Malvinas Argentinas
Any time a team outscores its opponent by two tries to one that team should be the winner. Today, in Mendoza, however, Argentina let a victory fall from its grasp as it failed to score a point in the second half after it had held a 17-10 first half lead. Tries to man of the match Juan Manuel Leguizamón and Marcelo Bosch had Argentina in the lead and in control. So much so that South Africa´s try was the definition of a 14 point score as it came after Argentina had recovered the ball only for South Africa to get a rebound off a Felipe Contepomi kick and then pass it wide. 

The try scored by Bjorn Basson in the 14th minute made it a 10-10 game, and despite South Africa nearly having additional lucky bounces of the ball, it was the home side that was playing the better rugby. Indeed Argentina had the scoring opportunities and was looking ominous when Marcelo Bosch scored in the 36th minute. The outside centre´s try came after a period of attacking rugby in the South African half with both forwards and backs gaining ground. Bosch´s try saw him put his opposite, JJ Engelbrecht, in two minds. As the Springbok centre drifted Bosch was able to cut in and get past prop Jannie du Plessis. 

Argentina in third position
With Contepomi landing the conversion Argentina was 17-10 ahead but the South Americans would fail to score again. Missed penalties from both Contepomi and Bosch hurt the home side while Morné Steyn had no concerns as the Stade Français flyhalf kicked 17 points to have the crucial impact on the game. While Steyn was not given good service from Ruan Pienaar at scrumhalf he was able to do what he needed to as he ensured South Africa was able to complete a crucial away victory in the Rugby Championship. Pienaar is likely to lose the starting 9 shirt as South Africa will require quicker and more effective play from the base against Australia and New Zealand. He was put under pressure but was, mainly, unable to play to the required standard due to being off his game. 

Pienaar was not alone in this regard. Big name Springboks players such as Bryan Habana,  Willem Alberts, François Louw, Adriaan Strauss, Tentai Mtawarira and captain Jean de Villiers were all quiet. de Villiers biggest contribution was, arguably, his constant insistence that Argentina was breaking the law and playing dirty at the breakdown. On numerous occassions he complained to referee Steve Walsh and asked for the video referee to verify. It was always inconclusive. Players from both sides were involved in pushing and shoving with backrowers Pablo Matera and Leonardo Senatore being singled out by de Villiers as both Louw and Eben Etzebeth had responded to the Pumas backrowers. 

It will become clear in the coming days whether or not South Africa´s claims are true. But for the time being the reports coming out are all takling about how well Argentina recovered. Indeed the talk, thus far, is focused on the turn around from the 73-13 thrashing seven days earlier. Although the South Americans were far better today it would be a stretch of the truth to suggest Los Pumas were on their game. To the contrary Argentina was not clinical in finishing off opportunities - opportunties which Australia or New Zealand would have been expected to capitalize on and win the match by ten points. 

Argentina was without captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe in addition to first choice players Patricio Albacete, Manuel Carizza, Juan Martín Hernández and Juan Imhoff. Also missing in the second half was Felipe Conetpomi who was replaced by Santiago Fernández. The depleted Pumas side therefore did very well to compete strongly against South Africa but, whether or not, the result is acceptable is questionable. The players on the field put Argentina in a position to win and had the missing players been playing then the result would certainly be deemed a failure for Argentina. In place of Fernández Lobbe Matera appears to have proven himself to be a very good option and his form suggests Fernández Lobbe will play 8 in place of Senatore when he returns. 


  1. Just got back from a late night EIKAWA do, at 1.30 am, I had to stay up anther 2 and a half hours waiting for the start of the game.
    Saw the 1st half and ARG looked GOOD!

    Fell a sleep for the second half. 5am in Japan.

    What do ARG have to do for a win. On the plus side the youngest played well. 2019 RWC??

  2. It's not all bad. They went from a humiliating thrashing to almost defeating the number 2 team in the world, in the space of a week. But the Pumas will need to learn to finish off matches. It's the second time they have let the Boks off the hook in two years.

    Sure they won't come close to the ABs but they can target a win v Oz.