In last week’s column I mentioned briefly just how difficult it is playing rugby in Argentina and the Springboks found out for themselves when they were lucky to escape with a 16 all draw against the Pumas.
Many rugby players around the world have already stated that South Africa is one of the most vocal and intimidating venues to play but the South Americans will no doubt give their best to upset the rhythm of the touring side.
Playing in their first Rugby Championship match at home over 45,000 vocal fans inspired the home side to challenge the Springboks who looked a little nervous and apprehensive in Mendoza.
Two weeks ago in CapeTown the Springboks controlled much of the match comfortably winning 27-6 but last weekend the Pumas played with a great deal more energy and commitments putting the Springboks defence under constant pressure.
In Cape Town the Pumas had trouble piecing the strong Springboks defensive line but in Mendoza they found holes that were not there a week earlier and their efforts were rewarded when No.12 Santiago Fernandez scored underneath the posts after 18 minutes into the match.
The Springboks never looked threatening in the first half struggling to string together any meaningful phases in attack which was a compliment on the commitment from the Pumas.
The Pumas led the Springboks13-3 at half time which indicative of how well they played and obviously how the South Africans had under estimated their opponents.
With 14 consecutive losses to the Springboks the Pumas had everything to gain but the South Africans were playing for pride in the second half and lifted the tempo of the match.
Their only try of the match came in the 66th minute when Francios Steyn charged down a clearing kick from Marcelo Bosch which he regathered to give the momentum back to the Springboks who were finishing strongly.
But the Pumas held on and whilst they may have been disappointed with not defeating the Springboks that had at least stopped South Africa’s winning streak against them.
In elite sport defence plays a major role and the Pumas were certainly not afraid tackling the Springboks head on which surprised the match favourites.
Both teams had opportunities to put further points on the board when Francios Steyn and Martin Rodriguez in particular missed a couple of simply penalties which could have won them the match.
The next match for the Pumas is in two week’s time when they go up against the mighty All Blacks in Wellington New Zealand who won’t take their opposition too lightly.
The All Blacks are sitting on top of the world after their impressive victories over the Wallabies but the Pumas must be prepared to go toe to toe with the current RWC champions who are playing some superb rugby.
The Pumas have already justified their inclusion in this competition which is now challenging the Six Nations as the games leading contest apart from the RWC itself.
The Springboks on the other hand face their nemesis in Perth against the Wallabies who have defeated them on their last four outings.
Veteran captain Jean de Villiers will need to get his players focused against a desperate Wallabies side who themselves will need to bounce back in front of an Australian fan base who are deserting the Wallabies in their thousands.