Springboks Malcolm Marx and Steven Kitshoff against Argentina

Springboks Malcolm Marx and Steven Kitshoff against Argentina. Photo: SA Rugby.

Dominant forwards power sloppy Springboks to victory

Disjointed Springboks survive Argentina onslaught to clinch a scrappy one-point win at Ellis Park.

Springboks Malcolm Marx and Steven Kitshoff against Argentina

Springboks Malcolm Marx and Steven Kitshoff against Argentina. Photo: SA Rugby.

The Springbok pack delivered a dominant performance to guide the team to a nervy 22-21 win over an inspired Argentina at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday night.

The result sees the Springboks round off their Rugby Championship campaign on a high, while also going out with a bang in what was their final Test of 2023 on home soil before the Rugby World Cup in France later this year.

The game got off to the world possible start for the Springboks when first-time starter Grant Williams was left unconscious within the first 10 seconds of the match. With Argentina kicking off, Williams fielded the ball and as he launched a clearance kick, an attempted charge down by Juan Cruz Mallía went horribly awry as the Argentina fullback slammed his hip with force into the head of Williams, who would subsequently play no further part in the contest.

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And while the Springboks still struggled to come to terms with that setback and how it affects the team going forward, Argentina took full advantage with two quick penalties for a six-point lead.

South Africa, though, quickly regrouped courtesy of the dominance of their forward pack. The likes of Eben Etzebeth, Malcolm Marx, Duane Vermeulen, Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff all made telling contributions on and off the ball — especially in the collisions and the set pieces — to power the Springboks’ fightback.

Tries by Etzebeth and Damian de Allende, who scored from the back of the maul, saw the Springboks open a 15-9 lead at the half, but they should have been much further ahead on the scoreboard. Sloppy unforced errors across the backline proved costly in that regard.

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The second half was fast, ferocious and outright chaotic from both sides. A hot mess, as the kids would say.

Argentina were the ones asking all the questions of the South African defence and while the hosts were defensively sound, their discipline left much to be desired and should be great cause for concern for coach Jacques Nienaber.

On their part, Argentina had several chances to creep into the lead, but were left to rue all their spurned opportunities, in particular flyhalf Santiago Carreras’ missed kicks off the tee.

With the score still at 15-9 and Argentina edging ever close to the tryline, De Klerk pounced on a loose pass and smoothly transitioned defence to attack as he freed up Manie Libbok for a five-pointer against the run of play. Argentina would go on to grab two late tries, but it was all a little too late as it served as nothing more than consolation efforts.


Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Grant Williams, 8  Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Lukhanyo Am, 23 Damian Willemse.

Argentina – 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Mateo Carreras, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Lautaro Bazan Velez, 8 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7 Santiago Grondona, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Lucas Paulos, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya (c) 1 Thomas Gallo.
Subs: 16 Ignacio Ruiz, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro,18  Joel Sclavi, 19 Pedro Rubiolo, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Tomas Albornoz, 23 Matias Moroni.

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Springboks team photo
A Springbok team photo. Image: SA Rugby via Twitter.