Rugby Championship

Rassie, Boks mindful of 'good hiding' from Pumas

2019-08-08 13:39
Rassie Erasmus (Supplied)
Rassie Erasmus (Supplied)

Cape Town - The Springboks, with just two Test matches remaining before they leave for the World Cup in Japan, can make history in Salta on Saturday when they take on Argentina. 

By the time the match kicks off at 21:40 (SA time), Australia and New Zealand would have already played in Sydney and the Boks will know exactly what they need to do to win their first Rugby Championship title since they won the 2009 Tri-Nations. 

As things stand, South Africa are one point ahead of the All Blacks heading into the final round of fixtures in this year's shortened competition. 

Whatever happens in Sydney, though, the Springboks will have their destiny in their own hands. 

The priority in 2019 is obviously success at the World Cup, but an opportunity for Rugby Championship glory is not something that the Springboks often come across and it will impossible for that not to be a prominent theme heading into Saturday's clash. 

There may have only been two matches in the tournament so far, but South Africa suggested with their 35-17 win over Australia in Johannesburg and then their 16-16 draw against the All Blacks in Wellington that they could be peakin at precisely the right time. 

Erasmus knows all too well, though, that the Boks face an incredibly difficult assignment in Salta. 

Previous Boks who have been to the venue liken it to Kimberley in South Africa, and playing anywhere in Argentina these days is an unenviable task. 

The world champion All Blacks escaped with a 20-16 win in Buenos Aires in round one of this year's Championship, while the Boks were comfortably beaten (32-19) in Mendoza last year. 

"We beat them in Durban and then we came here and they gave us a good hiding," Erasmus recalls of his battles against the Pumas in his first Rugby Championship in charge of the Boks. 

"It's going to be a tough match. If we want to win the Rugby Championship, we have to get past them and we know what they did to us last year.

"It doesn't help if we've got our eyes on the Rugby Championship and we forget what they did to us last year."

More than that, Erasmus says it is important for the South Africans to keep focus on the technical elements of their game rather than getting carried away with the possibility of silverware. 

While there has been significant encouragement over the last two Tests, the Boks could still be better in certain departments and that is what Erasmus is hoping to see on Saturday.

"We weren't great at the lineouts last weekend," the coach offered.

"Our scrums were pretty good when the second front row came on, so we would like to keep doing that. I thought we were also pretty good on our defence.

"I think if we improve on all the different facets of our game, then that's the only way that we will eventually win the game and that is how we will win the Championship at the end of the day.

"We would like to break it down to small little battles if we can ... I think that's the only way.

"If we start looking at Rugby Championships and World Cups, then I think we might lose sight of the small little battles, which is what wins you matches."

The make-up of the starting line-up for Saturday suggests that Erasmus is close to knowing what his best XV for the World Cup is. 

There are, however, a couple of positions where some uncertainty remains. 

Kwagga Smith at No 6 will know that Bok captain Siya Kolisi has returned to full fitness, while the likes of Bongi Mbonambi and Trevor Nyakane will want big performances to put their hands up ahead of the trip to Japan.

Teams:

Argentina

15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Marcos Kremer, 4 Matias Alemanno; 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro

Substitutes: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Gonzalo Bertanou, 22 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 23 Joaquin Tuculet

South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Jesse Kriel

 

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