Rugby Union

South Africa edge past spirited Argentina in Pretoria

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South Africa and Argentina battled the elements and each other in a tight Rugby Championship clash in Pretoria that saw the home team go top of the table with a 13-6 win.

In almost unplayable conditions that saw the weather at Loftus Versfeld go from heavy rain to monsoon-like conditions with a hail storm thrown in for good measure, it was the much-fancied Springboks that held out over a very spirited Argentina to record the opening win.


The battling win will be greeted with much relief around the country and by a dissatisfied Heyneke Meyer, who knows his team will be in for a much tougher proposition next week in the return leg at Salta.

Meyer has pressed to his team that a more expansive game is the direction he wants to continue to take, as scoring tries is what he believes will ultimately lead to world domination, a gameplan that has proved so successful for the All Blacks over recent times. However yesterday was not a day for rugby, let alone expansive rugby and sometimes one has to simply win and do so in anyway possible.

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It was a stark reminder to both sides as to what conditions could bare down on them in next year's Rugby World Cup and the Boks will have to have a good look at yesterday's performance and realise that on that form they have little chance of adding to their past triumphs.

Perfect start

Barely a minute into the game, the Springboks gave a glimpse of what Argentina could face over the 80 minutes when a huge drive by the forwards created space down the blindside for Ruan Pienaar, who exchanged passes with Cornal Hendricks to score in the corner and give the home side the perfect start.

The early score proved to be a false sense of security for the Boks, though, as Argentina met their hosts head on, matching the powerful Springbok scrum and showing that a full-strength Argentina is one that should not be taken for granted in world rugby.

Error-ridden performance

In what Springbok veteran and captain Jean de Villiers described as the worst conditions he has ever played rugby in, the same could be said of the performance of his team who squandered territory and possession over and over again, in what was a very flat performance by most of the team except the excellent Willie le Roux, who was outstanding yet again at full-back.

Much credit must go to Argentina, who failed to be out-muscled by the Springboks and they could very well have come away with a draw after Morne Steyn's kick was charged down in the dying moments, only for desperate dive by Damian de Allende to prevent an Argentine score.

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