Handre Pollard, who scored 31 points, dives over for a try against Argentina in Salta. Photo: Jan Touzeau/EPA
Handre Pollard, who scored 31 points, dives over for a try against Argentina in Salta. Photo: Jan Touzeau/EPA
Bongi Mbonambi scored the opening try from a lineout drive for the Springboks against Argentina. Photo: Jan Touzeau/EPA
Bongi Mbonambi scored the opening try from a lineout drive for the Springboks against Argentina. Photo: Jan Touzeau/EPA
Wing Cheslin Kolbe capped a busy display with the final try of the match for the Springboks against Argentina. Photo: Jan Touzeau/EPA
Wing Cheslin Kolbe capped a busy display with the final try of the match for the Springboks against Argentina. Photo: Jan Touzeau/EPA
Referee Romain Poite awards the try to Handre Pollard against Argentina on Saturday. Photo: Jan Touzeau/EPA
Referee Romain Poite awards the try to Handre Pollard against Argentina on Saturday. Photo: Jan Touzeau/EPA

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 Argentina in Salta on Saturday to clinch the title ahead of Australia .

The Wallabies had walloped the All Blacks 47-26 in Perth 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 Argentina 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 Japan 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 Yokohama .

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 New Zealand even before Scott Barrett had been sent off in Perth , it looked like the Boks were also going to face an uphill battle in Salta .

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.

Sanchez kept Argentina 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.

Points-Scorers

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).

@ashfakmohamed


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