DURBAN - Independent Media rugby writer Darryn Pollock looks at five flash points from the Springboks' Rugby Championship win over Argentina on Saturday.
1 - Argentina’s penchant for cards
It should not come as a surprise that discipline was the Pumas’ biggest problem, in front of their ravenous crowd. They, in the guise of the Jaguares or Los Pumas, have always found themselves on the wrong side of the referee, and it has often led to their downfall. However, Tomas Lavanini really sunk his team’s boat with a hugely reckless tackle firstly, and then a foolish knock down-penalty try combination - not to mention scuffling with Pieter-Steph du Toit moments before getting that red card. That, and Augustin Creevy’s poor attitude towards the ref also saw Juan Manuel Leguizamó take one for the team in the bin.
2 - South Africa’s own temperament
More concerning perhaps was the Springboks’ need to raise to the bait in a niggly and tense atmosphere. It seems that, in Coetzee’s words, his young and inexperienced team have been focusing too much on getting their rugby right, as well as their internal culture. That hostile environment that met them was something new. Many of the Boks on the field in Salta would have never experienced the furore of a Test match cauldron quite like it, and it showed in a few moments of madness. Andries Coetzee let his frustrations bubble over after his error saw the Pumas score - this after the red card. He jumped unnecessarily onto try-scorer Martín Landajo and was shown yellow.
3 - King Kolisi
It is fantastic to see a player like Siya Kolisi emerging as a stand out for this new-age Bok team week in and week out. A player with an amazing personal back story thriving in a Bok environment that celebrates his sacrifice and commitment. Kolisi has gone from making his Bok debut under Heyneke Meyer, and getting shunted around the loose trio, to finally being offered a path of growth and taking it as a premier, modern day, openside flank.
4 - Counter attacking
The Springbok brand of rugby has never been much associated with audacious counter attacking and running from their own line, but more and more of it is popping up in a celebration of a skillful side. Kolisi’s second try, that originated from the Pumas knocking on over the Bok line - when the visitors were leading by only four and at a crucial time after the break - showed a side of the Springboks that should be exciting fans, and putting fear into their opponents. Players like Andries Coetzee and Courtnall Skosan, along with Elton Jantjies and Raymond Rhule have all graduated from the Super Rugby school of free-flowing rugby and it is good to see it at the national level.
1st time since 2014 the Boks have won 5 tests in a row.
1st time since 2015 that they've won away from home.
Very proud @Springboks 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽
5 - Worrying lack of depth for the No 9 jumper
Ross Cronje’s absence was felt - again - by a Bok side that struggled to settle over the first forty minutes. Francois Hougaard looks like a man going against the grain for a Bok team that is finally starting to all push in the right direction. His indecision, and difficulty in finding his targets, saw him be easy prey to the rushing Pumas defence. Hougaard was intent on taking a few lateral steps before swinging the pass, leaving Jantjies and his willingness to play flat under huge pressure. The Boks need to find another scrumhalf in the mould of Cronje and perhaps cut the final foreign Bok in the current squad.