Rugby Championship

The big preview: Argentina v Springboks

2016-08-26 21:33
Allister Coetzee (Gallo)

Cape Town - Argentina's ability to close out games when they are leading will be put to the test again when they face the Springboks in Salta on Saturday.

The Argentinians have in recent times made a habit of losing Tests in the last 10 minutes and after last week's last-minute defeat to South Africa in Nelspruit they will be desperate to make things right this time around.

The Springboks, on the other hand, will want to avoid playing catch-up on the scoreboard again because the luck of a team with their limitations is bound to run out sometime.

While the progression of Argentina's rugby has been there for all to see since they joined what we now call the Rugby Championship in 2012, there has to come a time when they start to learn from their mistakes.

Tactically, Los Pumas are not a very accomplished team. They don't really vary their style of play too much and their game management is poor. They rely on energy, speed and passion to win games but what they are good at is their ability to punish the mistakes of the opposition.

In Salta two years ago they narrowly lost to the Boks 33-31 after Morne Steyn slotted a 76th-minute penalty to win the game. While Argentina won their first Test against South Africa in Durban last year, they were back at square one last week when they allowed the Boks to fight back from 23-13 down to win 30-23.

While Argentina are most people's "second" team, there must come a time when we start criticising them for losing games they should win, especially since most acknowledge that they are a good team.

The Boks are in a rebuilding phase, but that has never been a good enough excuse not to win Test matches. Only seven of the players who featured for the Springboks in Salta two years ago are still in the Bok set-up. They are Locks Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager‚ flank Francois Louw‚ wing Bryan Habana and centre Damian de Allende, while Steyn‚ Adriaan Strauss and Tendai Mtawarira were on the bench.

The Boks lack cohesion as a unit and still struggle to effectively execute their game plan and the inexperienced nature of the squad also means they lack the necessary composure and patience when under pressure. Coach Allister Coetzee has gone pretty much with the same team which featured in Nelspruit and will hope for a more clinical display come Saturday. While most fans expect the Boks to win every game, the least Coetzee can show them is that the team is making progress under his coaching.

If you are going to win ugly, at least give people hope that things will improve.

Players to watch:

South Africa: The performance of Elton Jantjies will be under the microscope as he continues to establish himself in the No 10 jersey. There have been pleas for Jantjies to be given enough time to settle and at the moment it looks like he will get it. However, like the rest of the team he needs to show there is progress. Consistency is key for any player at Test level and while Jantjies has obvious skills when it comes to attack, he needs to improve his tactical kicking and defence. It would also help if his forwards hold their own up front and supply him with good go-forward ball.

Argentina: The home side's captain, Agustín Creevy, was one of their best players in Nelspruit last weekend. In what was his 50th Test, Creevy's brilliant leadership and decision-making in Nelspuit kept his side in the match right until that game's closing stages and a repeat performance in front of his home crowd should help his team to only their second ever win against the Boks. Creevy is also expected to make an impact on attack and his prowess as a ball carrier and ability to off-load in the tackle means the Springbok defence will have to mark him closely as he could wreak havoc once he gains momentum.

Head-to-head: The performances of the two scrumhalves should have a huge influence on this game's result as both play important roles in implementing their teams' game-plans. Los Pumas No 9 Martín Landajo and his Bok counterpart, Faf de Klerk are both feisty characters and very competitive and will give their all so that their team can gain the upper hand. Both will be keen to put their respective sides on the front-foot by delivering solid service to their outside backs but they can also change the course of a match with a moment of brilliance as illustrated by De Klerk when setting up Johan Goosen's try last weekend.

Previous results:

2016: South Africa 30-23 Argentina, Nelspruit (Rugby Championship)
2015: South Africa 24-13 Argentina, London (RWC bronze final)
2015: Argentina 12-26 South Africa, Buenos Aires (RWC warm-up)
2015: South Africa 25-37 Argentina, Durban (Rugby Championship)
2014: Argentina 31-33 South Africa, Salta (Rugby Championship)
2014: South Africa 13-6 Argentina, Pretoria (Rugby Championship)
2013: Argentina 17-22 South Africa, Mendoza (Rugby Championship)
2013: South Africa 73-13 Argentina, Soweto (Rugby Championship)
2012: Argentina 16-16 South Africa, Mendoza (Rugby Championship)
2012: South Africa 27-6 Argentina, Cape Town (Rugby Championship)
2008: South Africa 63-9 Argentina, Johannesburg
2007: South Africa 37-13 Argentina, Paris (RWC semi-final)
2005: Argentina 23-34 South Africa, Buenos Aires
2004: Argentina 7-39 South Africa, Buenos Aires
2003: South Africa 26-25 Argentina, Port Elizabeth
2002: South Africa 49-29 Argentina, Springs
2000: Argentina 33-37 South Africa, Buenos Aires
1996: Argentina 21-44 South Africa, Buenos Aires
1996: Argentina 15-46 South Africa, Buenos Aires
1994: South Africa 46-26 Argentina, Johannesburg
1994: South Africa 42-22 Argentina, Port Elizabeth
1993: Argentina 23-52 South Africa, Buenos Aires
1993: Argentina 26-29 South Africa, Buenos Aires

Teams:

Argentina

15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (captain), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro

Substitutes: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Felipe Arregui, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Lucas González Amorosino

South Africa

15 Johan Goosen, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Morne Steyn, 23, Jesse Kriel

Date: Saturday, August 27, 2016
Venue: Estadio Ernesto Martearena Stadium, Salta
Kick-Off: 21:40 (SA time)
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant Referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

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Fixtures
01 October 2016
South Africa v Australia, Pretoria 17:05
02 October 2016
Argentina v New Zealand, Buenos Aires 00:10
08 October 2016
South Africa v New Zealand, Durban 17:05
Argentina v Australia, London 20:30
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