MENDOZA – Bloodied Argentina skipper Agustin Creevy hailed a 32-19 Rugby Championship triumph over South Africa this weekend as "special" because it ended a humiliating string of defeats.
The Pumas had lost their previous 11 matches in the competition and 23 of 29 Tests since finishing fourth at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
Only a week ago, Argentina faded in South Africa after leading at half-time and fell 34-21 in the opening round of the southern hemisphere competition.
"All victories are sweet, but this one was particularly satisfying," said the veteran hooker, who finished the Mendoza match with a blood-stained bandage covering a head wound.
"We faced a powerful Springboks team and we won -- that is special. We took a big step forward from last weekend when we lost in Durban.
"The team learnt from the mistakes made in South Africa. We attacked brilliantly in the first half and defended equally brilliantly in the second half," he told reporters.
Fly-half and man-of-the-match Nicolas Sanchez, who scored 17 first-half points, said the 27,500 crowd in the western Argentina city inspired the team.
"This is a perfect venue for us. The crowd were magnificent. They inspired us with their sustained support.
"The second half was extremely difficult for us because South Africa had a lot of possession and were camped in our half of the pitch.
"They tried to wear us out, but we kept our lead thanks to a gigantic effort by everyone -- the run-on team and the replacements.
"I favoured tactical kicking at times to slow the pace and try to dictate the rhythm of the match."
Winger Bautista Delguy, who scored two tries during a 21-point scoring blitz midway through the first half, said the Pumas had become tired of losing.
"We were desperate for a victory – to turn the corner. Everyone produced a huge performance and now we can look forward with more confidence.
"The team suffered collectively during the second half as we kept the Springboks at bay. We may have conceded soft tries in the past – but not today."
Amid the euphoria of defeating the Springboks, coach and former Pumas hooker Mario Ledesma will want to improve the scrumming, which crumbled after a good first-half showing.
Next up for Argentina in the six-round Championship are matches in New Zealand on September 8 and Australia seven days later.AFP