Dramatic reversal in roles

2013-08-26 00:00

THERE was a dramatic reversal in roles as Argentina changed into Superman and South Africa played Clark Kent in a physical but ragged Rugby Championship international played in Mendoza on Saturday night.

The Pumas, crushed by 60 points in Soweto a week earlier, were a transformed team, outplaying the unchanged but rudderless Springboks before finally succumbing to the boot of Morné Steyn.

Steyn succeeded with all six kicks at goal (five penalties and a conversion), some from awkward angles, to steer the Boks to a 22-17 win.

But certainly the All Blacks and Wallabies, watching Down Under, will have been boosted from what they saw of the Springboks, who created precious little on attack and had no real answer to the ferocity of the Puma forwards at the breakdown.

“It was an all different team today,” Steyn said.

“Playing in their country and with all their fans behind them, they came up tough to fight.”

Indeed, entering the final 10 minutes, and ahead 17-16, the Pumas and their volatile crowd were anticipating one of the more remarkable turnarounds in Test rugby history.

But the Pumas’ discipline failed them when it counted most and Steyn goaled two penalties in the final eight minutes for the win.

“It was different Pumas team,” Steyn said.

Wing Bjorn Basson scored the Boks’ only try after quick passing in broken play created the overlap. Juan Manuel Leguizamon, after just two minutes and with the help of a neat piece of obstruction at the front of the lineout, and centre Marcelo Bosch, following an excellent build-up, scored tries for the Pumas.

The Pumas were superb at the breakdown where they bullied the Springboks and won their own ball quickly and cleanly. Their defence, in contrast to the previous week, was organised and committed and the Springboks were unable to create any momentum through their big men or release their backs on the front foot.

“What was good was that we didn’t panic in the final minutes like we did last year [in a 16-16 draw],” Bok coach Heyneke Meyer said.

“There was an improvement, although we didn’t play well. Argentina were trying to make their country proud and they are a difficult side to beat on the road.”

The Springboks return home today and leave this weekend to travel to play the Wallabies in Brisbane on September 7 and the All Blacks a week later in Auckland.

The All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup by beating the Wallabies 27-16 in their Rugby Championship match in Wellington on Saturday.

The Australians were far more competitive than in the first round game, but their defence was again vulnerable and they showed a surprisingly lack of ambition in the second half.

Though trailing, and needing to score twice, they kept ignoring the counter­attacking ability of their outside backs in favour of a kicking contest.

Australian coach Ewen McKenzie opted to criticise South African referee Jaco Peyper rather than his own players.

He said that professional fouls were ignored by the officials and said he was baffled why the TMO was not involved in clarifying whether hooker Stephen Moore had scored a try when he was brought down on the line.

The All Blacks outscored the Wallabies two tries to one with a 15-point burst just before half-time, changing the course of the game after the Australians had dominated much of the first 20 minutes.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said the difference was his side’s ability to take their scoring chances.

“We put them under a lot of pressure at scrum time throughout most of the game and even in the lineout in the end we started to dominate them on their own throw,” he said.

“But, the best factor was the ability to make the most of our opportunities. When we had opportunities, we scored tries.”

Weekend scorers

South Africa 22: (Basson try; Steyn conversion, 5 penalties). Argentina 17: (Leguizamon, Bosch tries; Contepomi 2 conversions, penalty). HT 13-17.

All Black 27: Tries: Ben Smith (2). Conversion: Tom Taylor. Penalties: Taylor (5).

Wallabies 16: Try: Israel Folau. Conversion: Matt Toomua. Penalties: Toomua (3).

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