It was a systematic destruction of Argentina by the Springboks at the weekend, but the most important message from Heyneke Meyer afterwards was for the team to “stay humble”.
Yes, the Boks destroyed Los Pumas in the second half, but no one should forget all the nervy moments in the opening 40 minutes. The South Africans just couldn’t get going, especially in the first half-an-hour.
Argentina had scrapped and disrupted the Boks at the breakdowns, diving in wherever they can and being in the faces of the home side. Jean de Villiers’s men was a bit shell-shocked in that first quarter, and captain Felipe Contepomi had kicked two penalties to keep the visitors in touch at 9-6 after 25 minutes.
It was only when the Boks got a penalty try following a maul from a five-metre lineout five minutes later that they really got going. The try that broke the Pumas’ back was the brilliant break-out from inside their 22, when Morné Steyn decided to use the ball on the counter-attack by feeding Willie le Roux – the Cheetahs magician putting in a perfect chip over the top for JJ Engelbrecht to regain and score.
The Argentinian pack had lost their bite, and it was a wonderful exhibition of attacking play by the Boks after that. Yes, there were a few missed tackles, but the Boks ran with the ball into space, and mixed it up with power from the forwards in a couple of mauling tries.
The Bok scrum was also strong against the feared “Bajada”, and even won a tighthead in the second half. Nine tries and a score of 73-13 should never be scoffed at.
But don’t forget that there were a number of factors that went the Boks’ way. Firstly, Pumas captain and star loose forward Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe was injured in the week before the match. Then they lost stalwart lock Patricio Albacete after just 14 minutes.
It just got worse for them, as they conceded two yellow cards and both were at crucial stages, just before and after halftime (30th and 51st minutes). As a result, they started slipping off tackles as they were always one man short, and were unable to get back into the game.
The Wallabies and All Blacks are not going to give the Boks the same freebies later on in the tournament. The world champions were outstanding in dismantling the Aussies 47-29, and that was in Sydney.
Last year, the Boks also produced some promising play in their 27-6 win over Argentina at Newlands. But just seven days later in Mendoza, it all went horribly wrong, and it was just a lucky Francois Steyn charge-down try that saved the Boks from defeat and secured a 16-16 draw.
To be fair, the Boks are in a much better space than 2012, with Morné Steyn especially in superb form, and the addition of Le Roux at No 15 adding a new dimension to the attack. The core of the team is more settled, and even Bismarck du Plessis has been forced to stay on the bench by Adriaan Strauss (although I would still hand Du Plessis the No 2 jersey).
Fourie du Preez was very good when he came on with 25 minutes left, but the circumstances in which he entered the fray should not be forgotten. The Boks had just scored their bonus-point fourth try, and were leading 38-6. The spirit of the Los Pumas had been broken already, and the Bok forwards were dominant and providing front-foot ball to Du Preez. “We couldn’t contain the maul in the first half, and in the second half, we were broken,” said Pumas coach Santiago Phelan.
Du Preez’s experience would’ve been valuable in Mendoza, but he won’t be there. And neither will he be at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane against the Wallabies, nor at Eden Park in Auckland against the All Blacks.
Ruan Pienaar had one of his better Tests, but for me, Jano Vermaak is the better scrumhalf and should be given an opportunity on Saturday.
It was a hostile reception for the Boks in Mendoza last year, and this weekend will be no different. Lobbe should be back from injury, and stand-in captain Contepomi spoke about how determined Argentina will be to regain some pride on Saturday.
The Boks have been warned, and have warned themselves ...
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We’ve all read about former Western Province and Springbok centre Tinus Linee’s battle with Motor Neuron Disease, the same illness that has affected Joost van der Westhuizen as well.
Obviously, the costs of medical treatment are extremely high, and to that end, the SA Rugby Legends will be hosting a benefit dinner for Linee on Tuesday October 8 at the Cape Sun hotel.
It costs R10 000 for a table of 10 (excluding VAT), and you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 011 523 3189 for more details.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
@BryanHabana: Congrats @duane_vermeulen on scoring your first try(of hopefully many) for the Boks!!!
WHO TO FOLLOW
@kolisi1: Siya Kolisi is on his first tour with the Springboks, so see what he gets up to in South America.
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