Steyn breaks Pumas' hearts
August 23, 2014
South Africa's Cornall Hendricks congratulates Bryan Habana on his try
© Getty Images
South Africa survived a massive scare to secure back-to-back victories over Argentina thanks to a 33-31 triumph in Salta.
Morne Steyn's 76th minute penalty saw the Springboks snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in what was a match played at a quick pace in blistering heat. For the Pumas, they will look back on this match as an opportunity missed to secure their first ever win over South Africa and a maiden triumph in the Rugby Championship.
Argentina led by 12 points in the second-half but tries from Cornall Hendricks and Marcell Coetzee helped tee up the platform for Steyn to break Argentinean hearts. The Pumas played some wonderful rugby at times and scored three tries with Manuel Montero, Tomas Cubelli and Joaquin Tuculet crossing but South Africa's clinical attack saw them record their second win in as many games against Argentina following on from their triumph in Pretoria last week.
The result meant it was a fairy tale comeback for Juan Smith who was named at blindside for the Springboks after four years away from the international scene. He was one of three changes for the Boks while Argentina changed two with Juan Martin Hernandez and Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino starting.
The first-half was at times scrappy and Argentina went into the break 16-13 behind, but they were left to rue missed opportunities as they enjoyed more possession and territory than the Springboks. Following Sanchez's early penalty Argentina had an early chance to score but Montero's off-load was deemed forward as Juan Martin Leguizamon sprinted away with open turf in front of him. It was the story of the first-half with Argentina the better team but execution and the Boks' cutting edge kept them hot on the Pumas' heels.
Sanchez also missed two penalties in the first-half but they were enjoying having the majestic Hernandez back in the side and his 12th minute drop-goal gave them a 6-3 lead which was soon cancelled out by the boot of Pollard.
And come the 25th minute it was the Pumas who drew first blood when a sweeping move from the right to the left of the field saw Montero crash over in the corner with Sanchez adding the extras. The Pumas' were their own worst enemy from the resulting kick-off with Tomas Lavani's infringement giving Pollard an easy three points and on the 33rd minute, the Boks showed why they are so dangerous from deep when Ruan Pienaar's kick through in his own half was eventually grounded by the sprinting Bryan Habana.
South Africa's Ruan Pienaar makes some yards © Getty Images
There was still time for the Pumas to squander another try-scoring opportunity when Joaquin Tuculet knocked on when five-metres out and Sanchez's missed shot at the posts in the 38th minute meant the Boks went into the break with a three-point lead.
The Pumas started the second-half in a similar way to the first as they attacked with abandon and belied their status as underdogs. The home support did not have to wait long for their second try when replacement scrum-half Cubelli twisted and turned over the line in the 46th minute and despite Willie Le Roux's best efforts, the try was awarded.
And to the joy and astonishment of the Salta crowd, Argentina had their third try, four minutes later when Tuculet crashed over in the corner, though it was perhaps fortuitous with the Boks adamant there was a forward pass in the build-up.
Sanchez added three more points soon after with Francois Louw penalised for being offside as the Boks attempted to get a foothold in the game but they soon had the try they were searching for when Hendricks managed to fend off Hernandez to dot the ball down in the corner.
Cornall Hendricks stretches to score © Getty Images
The Boks' experience was starting to pay dividends as their work on an Argentina lineout five metres from the Pumas' line forced a knock-on and gave them a five-metre scrum. While Argentina cleared their lines on that occasion, the joy proved to be short-lived as a gutsy call from Jean de Villiers saw the Boks turn down a kickable penalty in favour of a kick to touch. From the resulting lineout, the Boks' set piece was perfect and Coetzee was left holding the ball as the rolling maul trundled over the line in the 68th minute.
The last 10 minutes was frantic as Steyn's conversion gave the Boks a two-point lead but that was soon snuffed out by a long-distance penalty from Marcelo Bosch three minutes later. The Pumas dared to dream but they were left heart-broken as Steyn slotted a 76th minute penalty to give South Africa the win.
Argentina 31-33 South Africa (video available in Australia only)
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