The Pumas let their fiery passions get the better of them as they spent 45 minutes of the game with only 14 men, eventually going down 41-23 to the Springboks in Salta.
Poor discipline saved the Boks’ blushes as their indecision and costly errors at crucial times kept the home side in the encounter.
Billed as a hostile and cagey encounter, the first half lived up to that hype as much as any Mayweather-McGregor bout. The Boks and Pumas sparred at each other, with no one landing any knock out blows early on.
Emiliano Boffelli kicked the first points of the game, while Elton Jantjies missed two chances at equalising.
However, the Boks managed to walk away with an early advantage as serial offender Tomas Lavanini was yellow-carded for a no-arms tackle. There was no damage done on the scoreboard, though, while he was off for 10 minutes.
In fact, the first lineout with Lavanini back ended in a try for Siya Kolisi as a planned move began with Jantjies chipping over the defence for Jesse Kriel to gather, and the offload to the flank for a full seven-pointer.
Jantjies pushed the lead further with his first penalty in three attempts. But it was an instant reply, and a gift seven points for the Pumas, as Ramiro Moyano pounced on a bouncing ball from the kickoff for Argentina to level things at 10-10.
After speaking to Pumas captain Agustin Creevy about the number of infringements, No 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamon was given 10 minutes in the bin just before the break, and this time the Boks took the advantage off a short lineout as Jantjies weaved his way to dot down under the posts.
Critical errors and nervous decision-making epitomised the half that saw South Africa lead by 17-10.
The second half was much more fire and passion as the cards continued to be dished out.
It was the Pumas that came out flying in the second half, and earned three points from steady pressure.
The Pumas also then pressured for a try, but then countering from their own tryline ended up in another Springbok five-pointer, and a second for Kolisi.
With the Boks starting to fire, Lavanini saw his second yellow, and thus a red, for a cynical knockdown as the opposition looked to score. And that is how the French referee Pascal Gauzere saw it as he also awarded a penalty try.
The Boks then let their passions run high as the Pumas pulled back a try after their red, but Andries Coetzee tackled scorer Matias Moroni into the advertising boards, and saw yellow for it.
The Pumas also kicked off with a penalty, converted by Boffelli for a 10-point swing.
The game was made safe as the Boks worked their way up the field, only to find Jean-Luc du Preez on the wing to score his debut try for his country with two minutes to spare.
Springboks 41 – Tries: Siya Kolisi (2), Elton Jantjies, Penalty Try, Jean-Luc du Preez. Conversions: Jantjies (4). Penalty: Jantjies (2).
Argentina 23 – Try: Ramiro Moyano, Matias Moroni. Conversions: Juan Martin Hernandez (1), Nicolas Sanchez (1). Penalties: Emiliano Boffelli (2), Hernandez (1).