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Springboks beat Pumas with a scoreline that might not sit well with England fans

By AAP
Aphelele Fassi of South Africa and Jesse Kriel congratulate Cobus Reinach of South Africa during the Castle Lager Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Argentina at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (Photo by Richard Huggard/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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First-half tries by halfback Cobus Reinach and wing Aphelele Fassi have led a much-changed South Africa team to a scrappy 32-12 bonus-point victory over Argentina on their return to the Rugby Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

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The Springboks rested the majority of the side that beat the British & Irish Lions in their recent series for Saturday’s opener, but continued with their territorial kicking style of play that put the Pumas under immense pressure with the high ball.

Replacement halfback Jaden Hendrikse scored a late try on debut and flyhalf Elton Jantjies kicked 17 points for the home side, while opposite number Nicholas Sanchez scored all the visitors’ points with four penalties.

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The two sides will meet again at the same venue next Saturday before they both head off for the Australasian leg of the competition. The Boks missed the 2020 Rugby Championship due to concerns over player welfare in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Boks m ade 10 changes to their side from the last Lions Test and while they showed the same defensive proficiency, having conceded only two tries in five Tests since the 2019 World Cup, there was also little cohesion on attack.

Argentina have only been together in South Africa for just a week and showed plenty of endeavour and willingness to attack, but lacked the sharpness to execute against the well-organised hosts.

“We worked hard, but it was tough today,” Bok captain Siya Kolisi said. “This challenge was different to what we faced against the Lions.

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“It was a little bit more physical, Argentina give you challenges at the breakdown and are street-smart in general play. It was all about who could execute better.

“But we have been working hard as a squad and the guys who came in gave everything.”

Jantjies landed an early penalty from the Boks’ first attack, before the home side bagged a first try with a breakaway from Reinach against the run of play.

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Ar gentina tried an elaborate backline move in the Bok h alf, but when the ball was spilled, the No.9 showed electric pace to beat the covering defence.

Jantjies is a very different flyhalf to the Boks’ regular number 10 Handre Pollard, but at his best is a magician with the ball and his brilliant kick behind the Argentina defence to Fassi was perfect, the winger crossing in the corner as the home side led 21-9 at halftime.

Both sides made numerous handling errors in a scrappy second half but the Boks showed greater control, especially at the set-piece where they began to dominate Argentina in the scrum.

Fassi crossed for what he thought was a second try with 10 minutes remaining, but it was ruled out after the intervention of the Television Match Official as replacement hooker Malcolm Marx was adjudged to have made a double movement in the build-up.

The home side managed another though as Hendrikse marked a memorable debut with a score in the corner as the Boks powered into the Argentina 22.

“It was not the s tart we wanted, but we played against a great team. We were not clinical in our game and they took advantage, so we need to work harder next week,” Argentina captain Julian Montoya said.

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Springboks beat Pumas with a scoreline that might not sit well with England fans

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