South Africa labour to narrow rugby win over Argentina

AFP
Mariano Galarza of Argentina (top-R) fights for the ball with South African player Lood de Jager (top-L) during a Rugby Championship Test match at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria on August 16, 2014
Mariano Galarza of Argentina (top-R) fights for the ball with South African player Lood de Jager (top-L) during a Rugby Championship Test match at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria on August 16, 2014 (AFP Photo/Gordon Harnols )

Pretoria (AFP) - South Africa laboured to a 13-6 victory over Argentina on Saturday in a Rugby Championship Test in rain-soaked Pretoria.

The Springboks failed to build on a Ruan Pienaar try after 82 seconds and finished the game at Loftus Versfeld stadium defending desperately against the underdogs.

Torrential rain throughout the opening half proved a great leveller and South Africa never threatened to achieve the widely expected four-try bonus point.

Centre and skipper Jean de Villiers said the conditions contributed to a performance that fell far short of expectations.

"These were among the worst conditions I have played in," said the star returning to the team after missing mid-year victories over Wales and Scotland through injury.

"And remember I spent a year playing for Munster in Ireland.

"However, the most important issue was to win and we did that. Let us also give credit to Argentina for playing really well.

"New boys Damian de Allende, Handre Polland and Lood de Jager came through well and I believe they will learn a lot from this match.

"Our defending really impressed me, especially in the closing stages when Argentina were chasing a try."

New Argentina skipper and hooker Agustin Creevy hailed his team, who suffered a 60-point drubbing in the corresponding fixture last season.

"South Africa are a very powerful team and we put up a good performance against them," said the England-based forward.

"We did well in the scrums, but the team needs to be a bit more adventurous if we are going to win matches.

"This display offers hope that Argentina can win for the first time in the competition when we host the Springboks in Salta next weekend."

South Africa led 10-3 at half-time after a nightmare first half for both teams with the rain ruining the occasion.

Scrum-half Pienaar gave the Springboks the perfect start after a driving maul off a lineout won by the hosts.

Pienaar exchanged passes with right-wing Cornal Hendricks down the blindside before darting clear to touch down and fly-half Handre Pollard converted from the touchline.

Argentina recovered quickly and were awarded two penalties with centre Marcelo Bosch going wide from long range before fly-half Nicolas Sanchez succeeded with a much closer attempt.

The Pumas were creating problems for the Springboks at scrum time, although the South Americans spoilt a lot of good work by conceding penalties.

Pollard restored the seven-point advantage on 17 minutes with a close-range penalty.

A feature of the opening 40 minutes was the superb handling of high kicks by Springboks full-back Willie le Roux.

Sanchez narrowed the gap to four points with his second penalty three minutes into the second half as the rain eased.

Veteran Morne Steyn replaced Pollard soon after and quickly had his name on the scoresheet via a close-range penalty.

It proved the final score of a Test which finished with the Pumas pressing only for Bosch to knock on close to the 22-metre line.