If there was one message that became clear in the Springboks’ opening Rugby Championship win of over Argentina on Saturday evening, it’s that if you’re going to give the ball to the electrifying wingers Aphiwe Dyantyi and Makazole Mapimpi, they will ultimately score.
The two flyers scored four of the Boks’ six tries in an exciting if somewhat flawed 34-21 triumph in Durban.
With the Boks holding their own in the tight exchanges but failing to dominate, it was Dyantyi and Mapimpi’s burst of scoring in the third quarter that finally helped the home side take control after trailing at half-time.
In fact, their contribution should’ve put the game to rest but flyhalf Handre Pollard endured a nightmare off the kicking tee, converting just two of his seven kicks at goal.
Who was the star in this match?
While the forwards – of whom lock Eben Etzebeth was a monster – would probably have a fair argument to make that it was them who laid the platform for this win, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk was superb. Despite being targeted early on by the robust Pumas, he distributed the hard-won ball of the forwards intelligently and it was his clever tactical kicking which provided the space for Dyantyi to score the second of his two tries. He was duly rewarded with the Boks’ sixth and game-clinching try.
Key moments and themes
- After applying most of the earlier territorial pressure, it was the Boks who got on the scoreboard first with the opening try of the game by centre Lukhanyo Am. The Sharks star muscled his way over after the initial break over the advantage line by Pollard. It was a sign of things to come as the 24-year-old midfielder delivered his best performance to date at Test level, tackling hard and poaching two balls from the breakdown.
- South Africa will need to be more patient on attack, especially when they have front foot ball. Their over-eagerness led to the Pumas’ second try when Dyantyi and skipper Siya Kolisi combined well on attack, before leaving the ball behind at the ruck. That left Pumas flank Pablo Matera with an easy run-in. Less seriously, it led to a plethora of opportunities being left unused in general.
- The Springboks held sway in the scrums and eventually came to dominate that set-piece but they have lots of work to do in the lineout. While he’s a fantastic ball-carrier and magnificent breakdown exponent, hooker Malcolm Marx will need to work on his primary duty as lineout thrower. He was largely culpable for the messiness in that regard.
- Coach Rassie Erasmus will feel encouraged that most of the Pumas’ points were off his team’s mistakes. It suggests they didn’t allow Argentina to impose themselves and it’s arguable that a more experienced side might’ve shut them out completely. The Boks’ defensive structure seems to be improving, with their scramble defence in particular being impressive.
- How should one judge Pollard’s goal kicking? It’s an interesting question given how much flak his deputy Elton Jantjies has received in the past. But it’s undeniable that such showings will put the Boks under far more pressure in future.
Springboks – Tries: Aphiwe Dyantyi (2), Makazole Mapimpi (2), Lukhanyo Am, Faf de Klerk. Conversions: Handre Pollard (2).
Argentina – Tries: Nicolas Sanchez, Pablo Matera, Matias Moroni. Conversions: Sanchez (3).