Six-try Springboks will be satisfied, but more questions than answers for Rassie
To score six tries against Argentina is not something to be sniffed at, but the Springboks will know that they will have to improve considerably if they want to be genuine Rugby Championship contenders.
The Boks huffed and puffed their way to a 34-21 victory over Los Pumas at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday, and coach Rassie Erasmus will be relieved that his team managed to secure a try bonus point as well.
It was a fiery start to the second half that made all the difference for the home side as they scored three tries in 13 minutes to all but guarantee a triumph.
Erasmus would’ve been concerned when an intercept try brought the Argentinians back into the match at 27-21 in the 67th minute, but a dart around the fringes by Faf de Klerk soon afterwards settled the outcome.
The second-half burst, though, came as a result of the visitors largely falling off some of the courageous tackles they were making in the first half.
The South Africans opted to take route one up the middle, with replacement prop Steven Kitshoff punching holes in the defence. Space eventually opened up out wide for Makazole Mapimpi (twice) and Aphiwe Dyantyi to dot down.
But for the rest of the performance, there will be more questions than answers for the Bok coach.
The backs battled to create space for speedsters Dyantyi and Mapimpi, with the ploy of using Willie le Roux as a second flyhalf coming in as a playmaker in midfield not really working.
Le Roux is at his best when playing as a fullback who ghosts into the backline and delivers the final pass or finishes himself, and hopefully Erasmus will play to the strengths of the Wasps star, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Saturday with a clever chip to set up Dyantyi’s first try.
While captain Siya Kolisi tried hard to get the Bok spark going in the tight-loose – along with a busy Eben Etzebeth – Kolisi’s loose-forward mates Francois Louw and Warren Whiteley battled at times to keep up with the play.
Erasmus will hope that the duo get better with more game time, but they only have next week’s return Test against Argentina to get to 100 percent before the bigger challenges of the Wallabies and All Blacks.
Pollard’s display was also iffy, with a couple of loose passes, while he also missed five out of seven shots at goal, and Malcolm Marx didn’t find his jumpers in a few attacking lineouts.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Boks, though, with Lukhanyo Am showing some silky touches on attack and scoring the opening try, while Dyantyi and Mapimpi were hungry and looked for opportunities all over the field.
A workmanlike performance from the Boks, but the breakdowns, lineouts and creativity on attack needs to be sharpened up.
Springboks 34 – Tries: Lukhanyo Am, Aphiwe Dyantyi (2), Makazole Mapimpi (2), Faf de Klerk. Conversions: Handré Pollard (2).
Argentina 21 – Tries: Nicolas Sanchez, Pablo Matera, Matias Moroni. Conversions: Sanchez (3).@ashfakmohamed