The Springboks produced some stunning rugby as they scored nine tries in blasting their way to a record win over a battered and bruised Argentina, 73-13, at South Africa’s party central on Saturday, the FNB Stadium, the opening round of The Castle Rugby Championship.
Felipe Contepoimi, the Pumas captain, admitted his team had been intimidated by the physicality and the directness of the Springbok team’s running as the home team raced to their highest score against a Tier 1 nation in 14 years and a record total against the Pumas, eclipsing the previous highest of 63-9, in 2008.
Not since Nick Mallett’s Boks scored 101 against Italy in Durban in 1999 has a Tier 1 nation conceded as many points against the Boks. The 53 000 crowd at the Stadium to celebrate Nelson Mandela Sport & Culture Day lapped up the entertainment.
Eight players scored five pointers after the ball had been set rolling only in the 30th minute when New Zealand referee Chris Pollock awarded a penalty try after Pumas hooker Eusebio Guinazu knocked down what would have been a scoring pass to Ruan Pienaar a metre from the line.
Guinazu received the first of two yellow cards earned by Argentina – the second went to Leonardo Senatore for a tip tackle on JJ Engelbrecht in the second half – and his team leaked two tries and slipped from a narrow 9-6 deficit in the first half hour after a nervy opening from both sides to a 26-6 halftime deficit.
The Springboks scored their third try after his return at the start of the second half when Adriaan Strauss plunged over for one of three tries from lineout drives and after that it only became a question of how many as the confidence flooded into the Boks’ play as they produced some champagne rugby.
Willem Albert and Jean de Villiers (from an intercept in midfield) added tries in the absence of Senatore but, even back to full strength, the Pumas could not stem the flow as Fourie du Preez, Bryan Habana, Duane Vermeulen and Bismarck du Plessis all scored in the final quarter.
Coach Heyneke Meyer said that the team had delivered on their objectives: "The team talk was simple,” he said. “I really wanted a special performance; one to make Madiba and our country proud. The outstanding thing for me was that it was a clinical performance.
"There were a lot of soccer fans out there today and I really wanted to show them what rugby is about and to make our nation proud. I said to the guys 'let's go out and show them what we can do’.”
Jean de Villiers was asked if the second half was one of the best of his career. He said: “We didn't use all our opportunities and there are definitely things we can work on. The score was good but you have to put it in perspective. There was one intercept and two yellow cards and it will be a different game in a week’s time.
"Days like this don't come around that often and we’ll enjoy the moment but we need to start all over again on Monday. The Madiba magic worked for us again today. It was a special occasion and we could enjoy it out there."
South Africa – Tries: JJ Engelbrecht, Adriaan Strauss, Willem Alberts, Jean de Villiers, Fourie du Preez, Bryan Habana, Duane Vermeulen, Bismarck du Plessis, penalty try. Conversions: Morne Steyn (8). Penalties: Steyn (4).
Argentina – Try: Felipe Contepomi. Conversion: Contepomi. Penalties: Contepomi (2).