Trevor Nyakane warned during a media session on Wednesday that Argentina is a team that simply refuses to throw in the towel. They will keep playing even when their opponents are showing strong and enjoying scoreboard momentum.
Well, the Argentines added action to warning words in the final Rugby Championship Test of 2023 when they tested the Springboks to the limit at Ellis Park.
The home team eventually held on to clinch the showdown 22 – 21, but boy did things go downhill especially in the second half.
The action-packed match started in the worst way possible when the exciting Grant Williams received a very hard blow to the head within 35 seconds of the start of the duel.
The Sharks player kicked the ball away near his goal line, but a flying Juan Cruz Mallia collided with him and he was taken off the field on a stretcher a short time later.
Faf de Klerk took Williams’ place behind the scrum and the Springboks initially struggled to get going.
However, Eben Etzebeth once steamrolled the only defender between him and the goal line, after which Damian de Allende scored a quick try after a good Bok rolling movement.
The Springboks’ forwards also chatted nicely and an excellent Malcolm Marx, together with Steven Kitshoff, ensured that the South Africans won the scrum and breakdown point war.
At half-time the Springboks enjoyed a lead of 15 – 9 and it looked like it would be a good night in Johannesburg.
But one spirited Argentinian counter-attack after another caught them off guard in the second half and the defense almost had to stand up.
Fortunately, De Klerk was able to pick up a loose ball and Manie Libbok showed his heels for the South Americans to score an important try against the run of play.
Manie Libbok gets his first test Try and convert! ????
Brilliant work by Faf de Klerk ????
— SuperSport Rugby (@SSRugby) July 29, 2023
Ellispark’s DJ immediately pulled away with an upbeat Avicii hit, but De Allende’s yellow card in the 73rd minute threatened to mess things up again.
Argentina’s Gonzalo Betranou scored the last try of the matchup, but by then it was already too late for the visitors to round off a remarkable second-half performance with victory.
Two weeks ago the Springboks played against the spirited All Blacks and tonight against a team that flatly refused to lie down. Perhaps these are valuable lessons in the run-up to the World Cup.
Springboks: Tries: Eben Etzebeth, Damian de Allende and Manie Libbok. Goals: Libbok (2). Penalty kick: Libbok.
Argentina: Tries: Mateo Carreras and Gonzalo Betranou. Goal kick: Santiago Carreras. Penalties: Santiago Carreras (3).