Cape Town - Pat Lambie may have done enough
to earn rights to the No 10 jersey when the Springboks open their Rugby World Cup
account against Japan in Brighton on September 19.
He played second fiddle to Handre Pollard
for the starting berth in three successive Rugby Championship defeats
this season, but his composure, authority and no lack of sparkle in the berth
on Saturday went a long way to explaining why the Boks finally nailed down a
maiden 2015 Test win against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
The margin of 26-12 was fully deserved, and
thoroughly avenged last week’s first-time defeat to these foes in Durban; it
was South Africa’s most clear-cut victory in Argentina itself in at least 10
Pollard, who is a huge talent but fallen
prey to some inconsistencies at present, would have been envious of the quality
of front-foot ball Lambie received in an infinitely more switched-on and
clinical Bok performance than at Kings Park.
Yet the Sharks favourite scored highest on
the Sport24 performance card, such was the assuredness of his showing, and arguably
deserves inside lane at flyhalf as RWC plans take shape ...
how I rated the Boks out of 10 in Buenos Aires:
What you see is still very much what you
get, but the recalled fullback also barely put a foot wrong and was part of an
efficient and hard-working back three collectively.
Wore No 14 but played on the left and was
dynamic from start to finish. Stuck to defensive guns, including a clean aerial
take or two, and snaked his way beautifully through some traffic for 30th-minute
Limited chances to attack, but looked
threatening most times he got them, and showed strong positional awareness on
defence at outside centre, including some key wrap-him-up tackles.
de Allende: 6
Continues to grow at No 12, even if he was
well policed as an offensive threat. Industrious, and used his strength to
ensure no routes through his channel for Pumas runners.
Veteran reminded of his versatility with
bright showing on less familiar right touchline. Alert and constructive,
especially on kick chases. Coolly on hand to register 58th Test try,
albeit one of his easiest yet.
Body language exuded calmness from the word
go - would have done much to settle any butterflies around him. Excellent in
every respect; a general of the important berth. Lone real blemish on otherwise
deadly all-round kicking day was overcooking one penalty kick for corner.
Still makes the odd decision-making error
from turnovers, but could rarely be faulted for quality or stealth of his
service here. Clever long pass for Habana try.
Great tap-on pass in movement which led to
Mvovo’s eye-catching dot-down, which only confirmed expansion of his skills set
in recent seasons. As ever, some frantic tidying-up on defence when Boks
Mere presence of the Bone Collector at No 7
seemed to draw some sting out of Pumas pack that was well less gung-ho than a
week ago. Decent showing for over an hour considering rustiness.
Tremendously busy at breakdowns; running
back into best form. Made important hits at times, too.
Debate will linger over whether he deserves
to start at RWC ahead of young firebrand Lood de Jager, but his restoration
helped mastermind dominant Bok lineout. Some good carries, and who says he’s a
scrummaging liability in second row?
Absolutely amazing track-back run from
other end of park for try-saving tackle in second minute! Set tone for his
performance as whole. Back to physical best - though fuse was tested at times
- and put tons of pressure on Argentine throw-in at lineout.
van der Merwe: 6
Might have contributed more in open play,
and did benefit hugely from absence this week of hatchet-man Marcos Ayerza as
his loosehead opponent. That said, did the business at set-piece where Boks
seldom took backward step.
Vitally busy in first-quarter general play,
as Boks established necessary foothold up front. Accurate at lineouts, and
applied himself at scrums.
Just his second start for Boks, and it was
an eye-catching one. Rock solid at No 1, which aided visitors winning scrum
penalty count this time. One or two battering-ram charges as well.
Brits and Pieter-Steph du Toit: 6.5
These two level-peg as the bench players to
most catch the eye when introduced. Hooker Brits featured strongly with ball in
hand, reminding of his stepping and general athletic abilities, whilst the happily
fit-again Du Toit put himself about powerfully at blindside flank when he
replaced Alberts on 64 minutes.
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing