Pretoria - South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer hailed newcomers Handre Pollard and
Lood de Jager after starting their Rugby Championship campaign on Saturday
with a laboured 13-6 home win over Argentina.
As it happened: Boks v Pumas
It was a Test the
Springboks were expected to win convincingly, but monsoon-like
conditions put paid to any hopes of a try fest at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
The result gave South Africa an early lead in
the southern hemisphere championship with four points, two more than
Australia and title-holders New Zealand, who drew 12-12 in Sydney.
Argentina collected a losing bonus point and are relishing the chance to tackle the Springboks again next weekend in Salta.
Bulls flyhalf Pollard and Cheetahs lock De Jager debuted in a
55-6 Port Elizabeth romp over Scotland two months ago.
And Meyer liked what he saw when they got a second chance to stake claims for places in the 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.
had a 20-year-old (Pollard) running play at flyhalf and a 21-year-old
(De Jager) calling the lineouts and they did very well," said the
"New centre Damian de Allende was another to show the
character I expected. A lot of the guys in the team today are 23 years
Meyer was unconcerned about the close call against a nation they humiliated 73-13 in the corresponding fixture last year.
will be happy to keep on winning - even if it is by one point in every
match. That is what rugby is all about," stressed the former Bulls
He had hoped for a running game to start the Championship season, but torrential rain and 15 stubborn Pumas put paid to that.
"Argentina are not a continuity team - they are a contesting team. It is not always easy to get a flow to your match.
"We played well for 30 minutes, but did not get the points we deserved and that affected us.
"Argentina had a better kicking game than us, but luckily Willie le Roux was excellent."
Francois Louw was the official man of the match, but Le Roux must have
been a close contender after a number of superb catches off high kicks.
have yet to win in 13 Championship outings since a 2012 debut, but
hooker and new skipper Agustin Creevy believes history could be created
in Salta next Saturday.
"Our people will be backing us and I am
hopeful after a good showing in Pretoria. I am pleased with the
performance, but sad that we lost.
"The media often praise our forwards, but the backs also did a superb job against the Springboks.
South Africa scored an early try I called the team together and we
vowed there would not be a repeat of last year when we conceded nine
Coach Daniel Hourcade, who replaced Santiago Phelan after
the six-loss 2013 Championship campaign, said he was both proud and sad.
a week of sun, the last thing we expected on match day was torrential
rain. The team made me so proud, but we desperately wanted to win."
Lions No 8 and skipper Warren Whiteley will replace injured flank
Willem Alberts in the Springboks squad that leaves Johannesburg on Sunday
for Buenos Aires.