Pollard stars as Springboks clinch Rugby Championship title
The Springboks rule the Rugby Championship!
Rassie Erasmus’ team produced a dominant display in scoring five tries to one in a 46-13 triumph against
on Saturday to clinch the title ahead of
The Wallabies had walloped the All Blacks 47-26 in
earlier in the day to go to the top of the log.
Flyhalf Handre Pollard was the star of the show, scoring a South African record 31 points against
with two tries, three conversions and five penalties as the Boks kept up the pressure on the scoreboard to grind down Los Pumas and secure their first Championship title since Peter de Villiers’ 2009 outfit won the Tri-Nations.
It was a well deserved tournament victory, with Erasmus’ team the most consistent in the single-round format.
Of course, it’s all about the Rugby World Cup that starts in
in September, but the confidence gained from going unbeaten in the Championship can only bode well for the Boks heading into the 21 September showdown with the All Blacks in
But it was actually the hosts who made the better start on Saturday.
They played with better cohesion initially, and after flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez broke the line, he pulled off an excellent cross-kick for wing Santiago Cordero to dot down inside two minutes.
Considering how the Aussies were on top against
even before Scott Barrett had been sent off in
, it looked like the Boks were also going to face an uphill battle in
But the visiting forwards, lead by the powerful front row of Tendai Mtawarira, Bongi Mbonambi and Trevor Nyakane, slowly got on top of their opponents and earned a number of penalties from French referee Romain Poite.
Pollard slotted his first three-pointer in the ninth minute, and soon after that, the South African forwards stamped their authority on their opponents.
Eben Etzebeth claimed a five-metre lineout, and Bongi Mbonambi controlled the ball at the back of the maul to dive over.
in touch with two penalties as Pollard added three of his own to make it 17-13 to the Boks after the opening half-an-hour.
Pollard, though, broke the game open as following a concerted Bok attack, the pivot powered over just before halftime to extend the lead to 24-13 at the break.
The 25-year-old No 10 banged over another penalty early in the second half to virtually end the game as a contest at 27-13.
Erasmus’ men could’ve just gone through the motions for the rest of the match, but they showed a pleasing ruthlessness that was missing in the 16-16 draw against the All Blacks to finish off the Argentinians.
A classy offload by replacement prop Steven Kitshoff put Franco Mostert into a gap, and the No 5 lock nearly went all the over. Pollard got the five-pointer – his second of the game – and with that, the title was secured.
The Boks weren’t done, though, as Makazole Mapimpi rounded off in the left-hand corner, and wing mate Cheslin Kolbe benefited from a brilliant Frans Steyn dummy to score on the right.
Argentina 13 – Tries: Santiago Cordero. Conversion: Nicolas Sanchez (1). Penalties: Sanchez (2).
South Africa 46 – Tries: Bongi Mbonambi, Handre Pollard (2), Makazole Mapimpi, Cheslin Kolbe. Conversions: Pollard (3). Penalties: Pollard (5).