PRETORIA: Argentina will have credible hopes of making a Rugby Championship breakthrough when they meet South Africa again on Saturday, seven days after a narrow defeat in Pretoria in their opening game of this year’s southern hemisphere competition.
But the extreme conditions that marked their 13-6 defeat to the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld left few indicators of what the two sides will be able to produce over the next six weeks.
Lashing rain, a soggy field and occasional hail ensured a stop-start contest littered with handling errors and errant kicking that ruined the best laid plans of both teams.
Argentina, however, showed some evidence that they could be hard to beat in Salta on Saturday as they seek a first-ever win in the four-nation championship.
Their scrumming had the powerful South African pack on the back foot and their driving in the mauls was impressive. But there was little chance for either side to run with the ball and display the attacking initiative that ultimately wins games.
“When we started driving forward we grew in confidence. We proved we had the stronger pack,” Argentine captain Agustin Creevy said.
“We demonstrated that we can play at their high level. We know South Africa will come better prepared in Salta but in our conditions and with our people supporting us, we are looking to triumph.”
The Pumas are in their third year of participating against Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in a major step up in competition and to date have yet to conjure up a win in 13 tests.
But two years ago they held the Boks to a draw in Mendoza and last year let victory slip after South Africa slotted home two late penalties for a narrow away win.
“They are not a continuity team, they are a contesting team, so it not always easy to get a flow to your match,” South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said of the Argentines.
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 try from Ruan Pienaar after just 82 seconds and finished the game defending desperately against the underdogs.
Torrential rain throughout the first half proved a great leveller and South Africa never threatened to achieve the widely expected four-try bonus point.
South Africa led 10-3 at half-time after a nightmare first half for both teams with the rain turning the ball into a proverbial bar of soap. REUTERS