‘We must be clinical’

2013-08-24 00:00

THE Pumas will come out hissing and scratching but the Springboks’ power and pace should carry them to their first away win in the Rugby Championship in Mendoza tonight.

Argentina were left red-faced and battered by their 73-13 mauling at Soccer City in Soweto a week back, and they will be stronger and more physical in front of their vocal home crowd today.

They will also remember the corresponding international last year when the Springboks, ragged and over-confident, were fortunate to escape with a 16-16 draw. The Springboks then went on to lose to the Wallabies and All Blacks on the road and they have yet to pick up an away victory in this competition.

Such was their superiority in Soweto that it is difficult to see how the Pumas can turn this contest around. But they will be more intense and physical tonight and, this time, the Springboks will also be left nursing the scars of war.

“We had a lot of things to do this week, starting with the mentality of the players,” Argentina coach Santiago Phelan said on the eve of the Test.

“We need to grow up, we need to learn about intensity, we need to keep playing the top teams in order to improve.”

He will also hope to catch the Springboks napping.

After such a one-sided contest, complacency is obviously the greatest threat to the Springboks, and coach Heyneke Meyer is aware of the dangers.

“We know that everything worked well for us last Saturday. It was difficult for the Pumas as it was a really big occasion for us, as we were motivated to do really well for Madiba.

“Now the Pumas are at home, and they will have a passionate crowd behind them, and after what happened last week, I am sure they will be playing with a lot of emotion.”

The Springboks’ strength in the set pieces laid the platform for the late carnage last Saturday. Juandré Kruger and Eben Etzebeth should again dominate in the lineout but the Boks will be tested by a more settled and experienced Pumas scrum with Leicester Tigers’ specialist loosehead Marcos Ayerza returning from injury and Juan Figallo switching to his preferred position of tighthead.

The Pumas, using means fair and foul, will be determined to prevent the Boks building up a head of steam while showing greater resolve in defence.

Captain and centre Felipe Contepomi said the South Africans “are unstoppable once they have built up momentum” and they will be desperate to slow down the Boks’ possession at the breakdown.

The Pumas are missing three of their more famous players, number eight and captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, former Sharks flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez and veteran lock Patricio Albacete.

This has robbed them of world-class skill, but they will still play with passion and intensity, lifted by their fiercely partisan Mendoza crowd.

Meyer was delighted by the finishing power of the Springboks last week and said that continuity in selection was now paying off.

“We are developing a killer instinct as a team and the challenge now is to have the same attitude away from home.”

But he warned against dwelling in the past.

“Last weekend has to be forgotten and we must show ruthlessness against a wounded opponent. We were clinical in Soweto and we must be equally clinical in Mendoza.

“The team played with structure and purpose and wore down the Pumas. That is what we must build on.

“The way we see it, we’re starting from scratch.”

And, as long as the players are listening, then the Springboks will pick up another win … along with many more bruises.


Argentina: 15. Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14. Gonzalo Camacho, 13. Marcelo Bosch, 12. Felipe Contepomi (captain), 11. Horacio Agulla, 10. Nicolas Sanchez, 9. Martn Landajo, 8. Leonardo Senatore, 7. Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6. Pablo Matera, 5. Mariano Galarza, 4. Julio Faras Cabello, 3. Juan Figallo, 2. Eusebio Guinazu, 1. Marcos Ayerza

Replacements: 16. Agustin Creevy, 17. Nahuel Lobo, Matas Diaz, 18. Tomas Lavaninni, 19. Benjamin Macome, 20. Tomas Cubelli, 21. Santiago Fernandez, 22. Juan Imhoff

South Africa: 15. Willie le Roux, 14. Bjorn Basson, 13. JJ Engelbrecht, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Ruan Pienaar, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Francois Louw, 5. Juandré Kruger, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Adriaan Strauss, 1. Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16. Bismarck du Plessis, 17. Gürthro Steenkamp, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Flip van der Merwe, 20. Siya Kolisi, 21. Jano Vermaak, 22. Patrick Lambie, 23. Jan Serfontein.

Referee: Steve Walsh. Kick-off: 9.10 pm.

Wellington: New Zealand vs Australia, 9.35 am.

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