Rugby Championship: South Africa battle back to beat Argentina
Last Updated: 05/09/14 1:02pm
Francois Louw: Tackled by Argentina's Juan Fernandez Lobbe (R) and Pablo Matera (L)
South Africa overturned a 12-point second-half deficit to beat Argentina 33-31 in Salta in the Rugby Championship.
The Pumas looked to be heading for their first Test match victory over the Springboks at the 19th attempt as they took control of the game with tries from Manuel Montero, Tomas Cubelli and Joaquin Tuculet to lead 28-16 after 55 minutes.
But South Africa roared back with tries from Cornal Hendricks and Marcell Coetzee and although Marcelo Bosch's penalty edged the hosts back in front, Morne Steyn kicked a 77th-minute penalty to break Argentinian hearts.
Victory moved the Springboks to the top of the Rugby Championship standings after a genuine classic in which the sides scored three tries apiece.
Unlike last week's rain-afffected clash in Pretoria, South Africa could not use the weather as an excuse this time as, under blue skies, they were outmuscled and outplayed for an hour.
Behind the fired-up pack that was consistently going forward, Nicolás Sánchez and Juan Martín Hernández were putting runners into space and keeping the Boks pinned back in their own half with clever kicks.
Expecting to be able to speed the game up from from last week's slugfest, the Boks looked rattled as it was their hosts who took the initiative and desperate scrambling defence was required to keep the blue and white jerseys at bay.
The Springboks would have considered themselves fortunate to be leading 16-13 at the interval having been on the wrong end of the territory and possession stats.
Indeed Los Pumas were the better team in the first half, dominating at scrum time and scoring the first try through Manuel Montero only to see the Boks snatch the lead back thanks to a Bryan Habana try against the run of play.
Tries from replacement scrum-half Cubelli and full-back Tuculet after the break saw Argentina take the game by the scruff of the neck against the shell-shocked Boks.
But the Pumas ran out of steam in the last quarter as tries from wing Hendricks and flanker Marcell Coetzee - plus the reliable boot of replacement Steyn - just about got South Africa home.
The Rugby Championship 2014
Head coach Daniel Hourcade hailed the Argentina players and staff following their first win in the Rugby Championship.
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer was delighted to see his side end a three-year losing streak against New Zealand.
Pat Lambie kicked a long-range penalty with two minutes remaining to give South Africa a 27-25 victory over New Zealand.
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