Sbu Nkosi and Dillyn Leyds proved that they should be part of the Springbok World Cup squad as the South Africans saw off Argentina 24-18 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.
It wasn’t the best of games as both sides battled to get their rhythm going, having made a number of changes to their line-ups in what was a World Cup warm-up encounter.
But right wing Nkosi was the stand-out Springbok on the night, scoring two well-taken tries and being a threat whenever he had the ball.
Left wing Leyds wasn’t far behind as he produced a busy performance on a night where the new combinations struggled for cohesion on attack and defence.
But the result means that Rassie Erasmus’ team remain unbeaten in 2019 ahead of their final World Cup warm-up against Japan away on 6 September.
More importantly, the Loftus clash would’ve answered a number of questions that the Bok coach may have had with regards to selection.
Apart from Nkosi and Leyds, regular Bok captain Siya Kolisi came through 53 minutes of action unscathed, and ran strongly with the ball on occasion.
He worked hard in defence as well, and proved his readiness for the World Cup.
His loose-forward partner Marcell Coetzee also made a good start to the game, but had to go off following a head knock in the first half and didn’t return.
Both teams struggled to get out of the blocks in an error-strewn first half, with Elton Jantjies and Joaquin Diaz Bonilla trading penalties in the first 30 minutes.
But it was Nkosi who sparked the game into life as Jantjies flung the ball wide to Warrick Gelant, who found the flying Bok No 14 who stepped past a defender and finished with aplomb.
Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach was one of those squad members who would’ve wanted to catch Erasmus’ eye, but perhaps because he was trying too hard, he wasn’t quite at his best.
Apart from a line-break in the first half, Reinach took one too many steps when clearing the ball, and seemed hesitant in his decision-making.
It eventually cost him and the team as he held on to the ball too long just before halftime, and threw a speculative pass that was intercepted by Argentina lock Guido Petti, who had enough pace to score.
Suddenly Los Pumas led 10-8 at halftime, and the South Africans needed to regain their spark to avoid an untimely defeat ahead of the World Cup.
And it was that man Nkosi who came up with the decisive play. The Sharks star was in space on the right, but had a number of defenders in front of him. No problem, though, as he stepped and then powered his way through for his second five-pointer of the night.
It's all over at Loftus! It was tight but the Boks have pulled it through by 24-18, Sbu Nkosi scoring two tries. #StrongerTogether #RSAvARG @Official_Bozza @MTNza @ASICS_ZA @FNBSA @CastleLagerSA @LandRoverZA @FlySafair @VirginActiveSA @BidvestCarHire @dovemencare_za @SamsungSA pic.twitter.com/zs2LN6F9xt— Springboks (@Springboks) August 17, 2019
Jantjies then showed his value by slotting a touchline conversion, and he followed it up with three more penalties in the last 20 minutes.
Argentina threatened to pull off the win, though, when captain Pablo Matera finished off a clever lineout move that levelled the scores at 18-18 with 15 minutes to go.
But Jantjies kept his cool to add six more points with the boot to send the boisterous Loftus faithful home with smiles on their faces.
Springboks 24 – Tries: Sbu Nkosi (2). Conversion: Elton Jantjies (1). Penalties: Jantjies (4).
Argentina 18 – Tries: Guido Petti, Pablo Matera. Conversion: Joaquin Diaz Bonilla (1). Penalties: Bonilla (1), Benjamin Urdapilleta (1).@ashfakmohamed