Close encounter at Loftus may have helped to ground Boks

2014-08-23 00:00

THERE was much negativity about the Springboks’ failure to grab the four-try bonus in their win over Argentina at a sodden Loftus last week, but amidst all the gloom an important point was missed — the draw in Sydney earlier in the day did mean it is still advantage to South Africa.

There is an understandable assumption that both the Wallabies and All Blacks will pick up four-try bonus points in their home matches against the Pumas — not that either of them have managed it every time they’ve played them, mind you — and in that sense, not grabbing the bonus in Pretoria was a miss.

However, the 12-12 draw in Sydney was a far more significant event to the outlook for the competition than the missed bonus point if you consider that it meant that New Zealand dropped two points that they didn’t last year, and that the Wallabies have suffered a blemish at home. It means that if the Boks keep a clean slate at home and then win two games overseas they will win the quadrangular competition for the first time.

A few four-try bonus points along the way will of course be a big help, but for now the focus should be on just winning against the Pumas in Salta today, for that will be enough to preserve their advantage, and will give them some kind of foundation to prepare for the tour of Australasia that is likely to be the ­decisive stage of their challenge.

The Boks have one thing going for them ahead of this game that they didn’t have last week — the narrowness of the win at Loftus, and the way they struggled, will have swept away the arrogance that was starting to become apparent off the field. This included public statements that focused on chasing tries and bonus points and on it with the eschewing of kickable penalty ­opportunities.

The Boks will be grounded now, they will be going into the game in Salta expecting a tough battle and looking just for the win. And that may be a good reason why we shouldn’t be surprised if they confound the expectations by picking up the four-try bonus they didn’t get last week.

Teams for Salta

(Saturday, 9.40pm SA time)

Argentina: 15.Joaquin Tuculet, 14.Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 13.Marcelo Bosch, 12.Juan Martin Hernandez, 11.Manuel Montero, 10.Nicolas Sanchez, 9.Martin Landajo, 8.Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 7.Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 6.Pablo Matera, 5.Thomas Lavanini, 4.Mariano Galarza, 3.Ramiro Herrera, 2.Agustin Creevy (captain), 1.Marcos Aryeza. Replacements: 16.Matias Cortese, 17.Bruno Postiglioni, 18.Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19.Matias Alemanno, 20.Leonardo Senatore, 21.Tomas Cubelli, 22.Jeronimo de la Fuente, 23.Horacio Agulla.

South Africa: 15.Willie le Roux, 14.Cornal Hendricks, 13.Damian de Allende, 12.Jean de Villiers, 11.Bryan Habana, 10.Handre Pollard, 9.Ruan Pienaar, 8.Duane Vermeulen, 7.Juan Smith, 6.Francois Louw, 5.Lood de Jager, 4.Eben Etzebeth, 3.Jannie du Plessis, 2.Bismarck du Plessis, 1.Gurthro Steenkamp. Replacements: 16.Adriaan Strauss, 17.Tendai Mtawarira, 18.Frans Malherbe, 19.Bakkies Botha, 20.Marcell Coetzee, 21.Francois Hougaard, 22.Morne Steyn, 23.Lwazi Mvovo.

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