The Springboks beat the Pumas on Saturday in their opening game for this year’s Rugby Championship tournament. Less than 30 000 spectators showed up to the match at Jonsson Kings Park in Durban. The formalities included Springbok Captain, Siya Kolisi, presenting a Zulu shield and spear to the visiting Argentian captain, Agustine Creevy.
Springboks Needed a Better Start
Rassie Erasmus’ team selection was under scrutiny. Included in the team was Eben Etzebeth who has been absent with a lengthy injury. Frans Malherbe was also named to start at tight-head with Wilco Louw being left out of the match day 23.
From early in the game, the Springboks opted to spread the ball wide, trying to utilize the speed of their wings Aphiwe Dyantyi and Makazole Mapimpi. It was the Sharks’ centre, Lukhanyo Am who finally opened the scoring sheet for the Boks. Managing to bust over the line from a flat pass by scrumhalf, Faf De Klerk.
The reply came in the form of the visitors fly-half, Nicolas Sanchez, who ran through a confused defense to score their opening try. There were also lots of aggression showed by both sides with the Pumas not backing down against the Springbok forwards.
Errors allow Pumas into the Game
The Pumas exploited errors made by the Springboks. Even collecting some balls from behind the Springbok ruck when Faf De Klerk couldn’t track back quick enough. While the Springboks rightly fed the ball to Dyantyi, they didn’t provide him with any space to move. He eventually crossed the line but the fly half, Handre Pollard, missed the conversion. The first half ended with the visitors in the lead after a series of handling errors stopped every attack.
— Los Pumas (@lospumas) August 18, 2018
Springboks Beat the Pumas in the Second Half
Rassie Erasmus had some powerful words for the team during the halftime break. Dyantyi crossed again shortly after the start of the second half, scoring his second for the night. Mapimpi joined in soon after and the hosts scored three unanswered tries before Matias Moroni got one back for the visitors. This came from a loose pass by the debutant full back, Damian Willemse was intercepted and dotted down between the posts.
— South African Rugby (@Springboks) August 18, 2018
Tendai (Beast) Mtwarira again dominated at scrum time. Overall the Pumas forwards were beaten at the ruck, but they fought on bravely. Mario Ledesma, the Pumas coach, when asked how they could stop the Springbok forwards next week, responded with “Maybe they get sick, who knows?”
Handling errors kept the visitors in it until the final quarter of the game. Faf De Klerk finally ensured the Springboks beat the Pumas with an intelligent snipe close to the line.
The Pumas will have a chance at revenge next week when they host the Springboks in Argentina. If Erasmus wants to have any shot at winning the Rugby Championship, he will have to ensure they win this match convincingly. Something they failed to do in the Durban test.
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