Their match-winning performance was a far cry from the dismal performance which led to their 37-25 defeat at the hands of Argentina at Kings Park Stadium, Durban, in last week’s Rugby Championship encounter.
The Boks were on top in just about every aspect of the game although they were streets ahead at scrum time. Their cause may have been helped by a far more efficient handling of the setpiece by New Zealand referee Glen Jackson as opposed to last week’s confusing show by French whistleman Romain Poite.
Their victory was ultimately built on a highly-accomplished first-half performance which secured them a deserving 20-9 lead heading into the halftime break.
They did, however, avert an early setback after they conceded a second-minute turn-over when lock Eben Etzebeth brought off a great try-saving cover defence tackle which sent Argentina leftwing Juan Imhoff sprawling into touch, close to the corner flag.
Early play saw the Springboks hold the upper hand and it set the tone for the first half which was mostly played in Argentina’s half.
SA flyhalf Patrick Lambie opened the scoring with a sixth-minute penalty and was on target again 11 minutes later.
In between those two strikes, Pumas pivot Nicolas Sanchez goaled a 14th-minute penalty, which raised a personal landmark of 200 points in Test rugby (6-3).
The Pumas were reduced to a largely defensive role and for a while they did well to absorb it, including staving off a driving maul which was stopped 10 metres from their tryline.
Springbok loosie Heinrich Brussow showed his worth at the breakdown with a great steal midway through the half and once the ball was worked crossfield scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar was set free down the left channel but he was robbed of the ball as he dived over by Argentina No 8 Juan Leguizamon.
Around the 23rd minute mark, the Boks were awarded three penalties wide out in quick succession and each time they opted for a line-out to set-up mauls. However, they made their third attempt count when after they were held up just short of the whitewash they relayed the ball out to the right where winger Bryan Habana ran in for the first try of the match. Lambie goaled the conversion for a 13-3 lead.
Soon afterwards the capacity 50 000-strong crowd were stunned into silence as the Boks swept upfield in a move which saw fine inter-play between backs and forwards before leftwing Lwazi Mvovo ripped through the opposition defence with a powerful 20-metre run to score. Lambie added the conversion in the 29th minute (20-3).
In the final 10 minutes ahead of the break, Sanchez kept the scoreboard ticking over with two penalties before the teams changed ends with the visiting Boks 20-9 ahead.
Straight after the break, the Boks again threatened a further score but Habana was brought down some 2m short. The Boks continued to apply pressure which came good in the 42nd minute when Lambie snapped over a drop goal (23-9).
Thereafter Sanchez and Lambie raised the flags with a penalty each to retain the 14-point margin at 26-12.
At this stage, Bok coach Heyneke Meyer sent out several substitutes, one of which was hooker Schalk Brits and he made an immediate impact with a line-break that took play close to the tryline where the home side’s defence released the pressure with a turn-over.
As the game wound to a close in the final 15 minutes, both sets of defences held out against several promising moves on either side of the halfway line but ultimately the South Africans wrapped up their World Cup warm-up clash in fine style with a win on the back of a 2-0 try count.
Argentina 12 (9): Penalties: Nicolas Sanchez (4)
South Africa 26 (20): Tries: Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo. Conversions: Pat Lambie (2). Penalties: Lambie (3). Drop goal: Lambie
African News Agency (ANA)
Original source: Polished Boks redeem themselves