Home Sport Boks rise above distractions to keep Rugby Championship hopes alive

Boks rise above distractions to keep Rugby Championship hopes alive

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The Springboks endured a difficult week off the field, but kept their Rugby Championship hopes alive with a win over Argentina on it.

Springboks hooker Malcolm Marx carries the ball against Argentina flanker Juan Martin Gonzalez Samso during their Rugby Championship match in Buenos Aires. Picture: Juan Mabromata/AFP

Cape Town – The Springboks survived a superb fightback from Argentina to secure a 36-20 bonus-point win in their Rugby Championship clash in Buenos Aires.

The Springboks endured a difficult week off the field, with allegations of an affair between flyhalf Elton Jantjies and team dietician Zeenat Simjee being reported before both were sent home from Argentina ahead of the clash.

Hours before the match, SA Rugby also sent out a press release to dismiss a report of alleged recreational drug use by some of of the Springboks’ players.

Although Argentina took a 3-0 lead, those issues looked like a distant memory as the Boks came out firing with a strong first-half performance, both on attack and defence, while their maul was an effective weapon.

The Boks attacked with a lot of spirit, with some lovely running and spreading the ball. They got some points for it when flyhalf Damian Willemse levelled the scores with a penalty conversion.

Both Boffelli and Willemse missed their second shots at goal, but the Springboks continued to apply the pressure with ball in hand and were rewarded with a penalty try.

It all started with a strong run by youngster Canan Moodie, before scrunhalf Jaden Hendrikse went over in the corner. The Boks were awarded a penalty try when offside Pumas flyhalf Santiago Carreras was yellow-carded for preventing the Bok No.9 from scoring.

The hosts moved closer to the Boks’ score when Boffelli slotted an easy penalty in the 23rd minute, but the South Africans stuck to what had clearly been working well for them as they used their power game after a maul, before Hendrikse sold a clever dummy to cut through and score under the posts.

The Boks hit the Argentinians with attack after attack and got their bonus-point when Malcolm Marx crashed over around the half-hour mark after a powerful driving maul when the Boks again committed numbers at the line-out in the opposition’s 22.

Argentina were their own worst enemies with the high number of errors, and while they got their first real chance when Bok scrum anchor Frans Malherbe was penalised at the scrum. They set up a line-out five metres out, but nothing came of it as they lost it.

The Boks put together another piece of attacking play just before halftime and won a penalty in front of the posts, with the referee finally giving the Pumas a warning for their poor discipline.

Jacques Nienaber’s team went for a scrum in front of the posts, and Michael Cheika’s outfit were caught off-side again. This time, it was scrumhalf Gonzalo Bertranou sent to the sin bin.

The Boks crossed the try line again on the stroke of half time through Lood de Jager, but the ref ruled that the lock had knocked the ball on at the set-piece.

Argentina came out energised in the second half as they were consistently secure under the high ball and threatening on attack, while the Boks made too many errors.

It was all Argentina in the third quarter as they kept the Boks to defensive role, and in a reversal of the opening 40, it was the Boks who were problematic with their mistakes in own 22, for which they were eventually yellow-carded when Willie le Roux was sent off.

While the Boks made some big driving-back hits, the way Argentina kept the ball alive at tempo was impressive, so too their support play. It felt almost unrealistic that they hadn’t scored by the 65th minute.

Willemse went down after a tackle attempt, and while he walked off the field with Frans Steyn coming on, the Boks will have their fingers crossed given their current situation at 10.

Argentina kept applying relentless pressure as they targeted their first try, and the Boks went down to 13 men when Kwagga Smith was also sent packing for a high tackle on Tomas Cubelli, which was ruled to have prevented him from scoring a try. Argentina were awarded a penalty try (13-22).

Argentina grabbed their third try when Matias Moroni went over for a contentious try with the pass in the build up clearly forward, while the TMO also checked the grounding. It was awarded anyway.

It was going to take some doing by the Boks to get the bonus point, but they pulled it together and were rewarded for their composure when Damian de Allende brought some hope when he went over in the 74th minute. Steyn added the extras to stretch their lead and keep their hopes of a bonus-point victory alive.

The final few minutes were tense, but the Boks made proper use of the last play of the game with Marx going over for his brace. Steyn connected the conversion from touch.

Point scorers:

Argentina – Tries: Penalty try, Matias Moroni. Conversion: Emiliano Boffelli. Penalties: Boffelli (2).

South Africa – Tries: Penalty try, Jaden Hendrikse, Malcolm Marx (2), Damian de Allende. Conversions: Damian Willemse, Frans Steyn (2). Penalty: Willemse.

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