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Los Pumas player ratings vs South Africa | The Rugby Championship

By Frankie Deges
Juan Imhoff of Argentina and Francois de Klerk of the Springboks during The Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Argentina at Emirates Airline Park on July 29, 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The 22-21 Puma loss saw them struggle with the physical domination of a Springboks team that takes no shortcuts in attack and involves many players at the breakdown. With eight points that went missing from the boot meant that the last-second converted try counted for little.


The final 20 minutes showed a more commanding performance by Michael Cheika’s side that will now share the charter flight with their victors as both teams cross the Atlantic Ocean to play a RWC warm-up game next Saturday in Buenos Aires.

Here is how the Pumas rated in Johannesburg’s Ellis Park:

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1. Thomas Gallo – 5/10

The smallest front-row on the field, he struggled in the scrum, but never stopped trying. His biggest asset is his attacking ability but didn’t manage any of his usual runs.

2. Julián Montoya – 6

The captain was his usual self – industrious and worked hard, even if he played against, arguably, the game’s best hooker Malcolm Marx. The blood in his shirt represented his huge commitment.

3. Francisco Gómez Kodela – 4.5

First Springbok try came from a lineout move in the front, which he failed to read. Beaten in the scrum, he wasn’t visible in the loose.


4. Lucas Paulos – 6

Heavily involved in defence, gave away unnecessary penalties. Trying to tackle a bulldozing Duane Vermeulen resulted in an 38th minute exit on a stretcher. Showed sufficient progress to, if he recovers from what seemed a big head injury, to be considered for RWC-selection.

5. Tomás Lavanini – 5

Well-behaved, he didn’t fight Eben Etzebeth as they’ve normally done in the last 18 tests. He did give away a couple of penalties and despite his size matching the Boks’s, with ball in had was easily stopped.

6. Pablo Matera – 5.5


After a quiet opening 40 minutes, he had a better second half. As an open side flanker, he was never first to ball and saw how the Springboks turned over ball or slowed Argentina’s possession.

7. Santiago Grondona – 6.5

Ubiquitous, he could not match the physical presence of the Springboks’ pack but tried his best and turned over a couple of key balls. Fifty-five minutes of spirited work against a good Springboks’ pack.

8. Juan Martín González – 6.5

Played 55 minutes at number eight, position in which he is being tested, and finished the game at blindside flanker. Clearly a player that has to be on the field as he can run, pass, tackle. Struggled against the physical presence of the Boks’ but was one of the best Puma forwards.

9. Lautaro Bazán Vélez – 5

It was a big game for the former sevens star but he failed to impress in 48 minutes on the field, with inaccurate passing and aimless kicking. His life wasn’t made easy with a well-beaten pack not providing clean ball. Different would have been his life in those final 20 minutes.

10. Santiago Carreras – 6

Left the field after 20 minutes for an HIA after kicking two penalties. Trying to tackle a running Eben Etzebeth on his way to his fifth try was almost suicidal. Came back to add a first half penalty and prevent a try in the last second of the opening half. First-choice kicker for the day, missed two penalties and a conversion which would have made the difference in the end. Nonetheless, a solid performance.

11. Juan Imhoff – 5.5

Searched for work all over the field; trying to run from a kick-off an awful pass he threw ended in the Springboks’ first points. Little clean ball to show his true attacking skills yet his defensive positioning was sound.

12. Santiago Chocobares – 6

His first test under coach Michael Cheika showed how good the Toulouse centre can be. It wasn’t the easiest of games with an asphyxiating Springbok defence. Did enough to confirm he should be first choice come RWC-time.

13. Lucio Cinti – 7

A busy afternoon for a player that is being asked to establish himself as outside centre. Long legs and arms, was a match for the strength of the Boks backs. Sound decision making under pressure.

14. Mateo Carreras – 7.5

In his 10th test, he continues to confirm that size doesn’t matter, bringing down players his teammates couldn’t. His try in the 74th minute was a testament to the team’s hunger, but that he scored was deserved.

15. Juan Cruz Mallía – 6.5

Could have – should have? – seen the red card in the first 10 seconds. First clearance kick charged down for an almost try; after that, was well-positioned throughout the game, helped in attack and defence and showed all the abilities that took him to win the French Championship with Toulouse.


16. Ignacio Ruiz – Played a handful of minutes as a blood-bin replacement of captain Montoya and in the last 2 minutes. Argentina would score when he was on the field and Ruiz showed himself.

17. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro – 6 – The experienced prop was very busy in the few minutes on the field, when Los Pumas had possession and position.

18. Joel Sclavi – 6 – The two-time European champion played 20 minutes in his first game after and enforced summer break. Carried the ball a few times but, understandably, failed to advance with two and three Springboks trying to tackle him.

19. Pedro Rubiolo – 6 – Took Paulos place seconds before the break and worked hard in a second half that saw a better Puma performance. Involved in defence and attack, he needs a new opportunity to try and secure a place in the World Cup squad

20. Facundo Isa – 6.5 – This was an important game for the Toulon forward. Had only 25 minutes to try to convince the selectors of his worth. Struggled in the scrum, with the uncomfortable Faf de Klerk putting him under pressure. In the loose he was strong and efficient.

21. Gonzalo Bertranou – 6 – The team played better in the final 30 minutes, when he was on the field. His try in the last second was an accolade of his best game this year.

22. Tomás Albornoz – N/A – Played only a few minutes when Carreras was undergoing the HIA process. Showed his style when running at the defence, and breaking, with the first ball he handled.

23. Matías Moroni – 6.5 – Very busy in his fifteen minutes on the field, having more attacking options than Imhoff. Always a solid player.


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carlos 327 days ago

Frankie, you know that in Argentina you don’t play open side blind flanker, but right and left. Pumas also tend to play right/left. You see that in the scrums.

Michael 328 days ago

Argentina should have won that game, missed 4 conversions. Chieka doing a great job. On neutral pitch they will be dangerous. Come World Cup. Chocobares and Cinti, have potential to be a great centre partnership.

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