The day the Boks let it slip

2016-08-31 06:00

SNATCHED away at the last moment. That about sums it up. It would also not be out of place to describe it as one of Test rugby’s messiest games in a long long while.

To hear the TV studio judges – Nick Mallett, Naas Botha & Co – tell it, they rated the Salta Test snatched from the Springboks’ grasp by Argentina just minutes from fulltime as one of the game’s most messy affairs in quite some time.

And they were right! Specially from the Springboks’ point of view – even if Los Pumas, playing the more effective rugby overall, were deserving 26-24 winners of a Test full of errors in a dour clash that was certainly no advertisement for the game.

If there was a hero for the Argentineans it was the captain and hooker, Augustin Creevy, with his bright-eyed manner and cheeky grin. The excitement every time he featured in possession was palpable, to say the least. For the most part it was a ragged affair, both teams seemingly afraid to take the initiative – content rather to wait for the others’ mistakes.

Surprisingly, in spite of some lackadaisical defence by the Boks it was the South Africans who were on the scoreboard first with a penalty by Elton Jantjies.

The flyhalf was not having one of his better days, however, and it was no surprise when he was substituted after halftime by veteran, Morne Steyn, shortly after halftime.

Unlike their earlier meeting the week before in Nelspruit, which the South Africans won 30-23, it was the Boks who scored first. But two penalties by Nicolus Sanchez wiped that out. And the South Americans kept it that way with a converted try and at the break led 13-3.

Still the rugby remained scrappy, though in typically dashing fashion Bryan Habana, beating several would-be defenders, scored the Boks’ first try soon after halftime. Could the Boks steal to victory as in the previous encounter?

Missing with a penalty attempt Steyn was on target with his next attempt, then missed again. Pieter-Steph du Toit soon made his presence felt by a fine try soon after coming on as a substitute, but an unusually erratic Steyn missed the conversion attempt.

The Boks now trailed 21-23 before a Steyn penalty put the Boks ahead at 24-23. Was this to follow the pattern of the previous week?

But no, with just three minutes left, the Pumas were gifted an easy penalty and hung on grimly for victory. What a strange back-and-forth game it had been.

In Wellington accusations of a deliberate eye-gouging incident against the All Blacks spoiled an otherwise 29-9 victory over the Wallabies. It was a game with no quarter asked or given.

On the Currie Cup front the rugby was a lot more entertaining. Sharks 26, Bulls 19; Western Province 36, EP Kings 6; Griquas 41, Pumas 35: Golden Lions 60, Boland Cavaliers 12.

The last-named were no match for a thoroughly professional Lions outfit, who had themselves a ball, to say the least.

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