Rugby World Cup 2007
South Africa book place in World Cup Final
October 14, 2007
Bryan Habana dives in to score one of his two tries
© Getty Images
South Africa will face England in next Saturday night's World Cup Final after scoring a 37-13 win over Argentina in the second semi-final. The Springboks ran in four tries while Percy Montgomery's kicking was unerring as the Pumas never looked able to produce another shock win.
The Springboks profited from elementary Argentinian mistakes to score three first-half tries, through Fourie du Preez, Bryan Habana and Danie Rossouw. Habana applied the coup de grace with his second try five minutes from time and Montgomery finished with 17 points.
Argentina players were in tears during their anthem and the powerful pack had South Africa under pressure at the first two scrums. But the Pumas conceded too many early penalties at the breakdown and careless errors undermined their promising start.
Argentina were nearly caught when scrum-half Fourie du Preez took a quick tap but his chip aimed at Bryan Habana was just too long and bounced into touch.
The Pumas were mixing up their attack, driving strongly from the lineout while Juan Martin Hernandez was confident to run from fly-half.
Full-back Ignacio Corleto linked well with winger Horacio Agulla, who evaded one challenge and then sent Du Preez sprawling.
Argentina kept up the momentum up with a looped pass from Rodrigo Roncero but they were stung when Felipe Contepomi's pass was picked off by Du Preez, who raced 70 metres to score the opening try after seven minutes.
Hernandez scuffed a drop-goal attempt but Contepomi booted Argentina onto the board after 13 minutes with a 40-metre penalty after South Africa captain John Smit was penalised for obstruction.
The Springboks responded immediately after Argentina infringed at the breakdown once again and Percy Montgomery added to his early conversion.
The Pumas continued to cause South Africa trouble at the scrum but Contepomi's long-range effort drifted wide of the right hand post.
Before Contepomi could strike the ball, referee Steve Walsh spotted the Argentina kicker had been given a rogue practice ball. It was the same problem which affected England yesterday.
Agulla conceded a sloppy knock-on but, with advantage over, Pumas winger Lucas Borges recovered brilliantly to scoop up a chip forward and skip past Habana to surge clear.
Neither side could gain any control or momentum in a scrappy, error-strewn period. The kicking from both sides was woeful, epitomised by Contepomi's kick into touch which went no more than 10 metres.
Contepomi slotted a simple penalty after Steyn was penalised but Argentina could not build any pressure as they continued to make silly mistakes.
Pumas number eight Gonzalo Elia gathered a wayward clearance and charged forward but lost the ball to Schalk Burger and finally the Springboks put together a slick attacking move.
Steyn recognised South Africa had numbers wide left and the ball was quickly swung wide for Habana, who chipped into space behind the Argentina defence and turned on the after-burners to score the Springboks' second try.
And they pounced again after another Argentina mistake, this time from Hernandez inside his own 22.
One of the players of the tournament so far, Hernandez failed to gather a pass from Pichot, South Africa snaffled possession and swung the ball out for number eight Danie Rossouw to stride over for the try, which Montgomery converted.
Argentina had to make a fast start if they were to cling onto any hope in the game - and did exactly that, winning a turnover as South Africa tried a driving lineout deep in their own 22. Hooker Mario Ledesma surged for the line and after being caught Argentina recycled quickly and the ball was swung out to Manuel Contepomi, who stepped inside to beat Habana and stretched to score.
Montgomery made it difficult and referee Steve Walsh was not certain whether Contepomi had grounded it correctly but the try was awarded by television official Tony Spreadbury.
Argentina won another penalty at the scrum and their fans found real voice in the stands - but their lineout was beginning to malfunction and they struggled to maintain an attacking platform.
Du Preez sliced an attempted box kick and, as Argentina recovered, the Springboks were penalised for offside but Felipe Contepomi missed another long-range effort from wide on the right.
Argentina earned another penalty after a promising break from Ledesma and Borges but wasted it when Corleto took a quick tap but found himself isolated. The Pumas were handed a reprieve when referee Walsh spotted a clear forward pass from JP Pietersen, who had sliced through Argentina's defence, and denied Habana a second try in the corner.
Argentina's lineout was falling apart and they continued to concede penalties, allowing Montgomery to boot the Springboks clear.
Habana rubbed salt into Argentinian wounds as he picked off another intercept and raced 80 metres to score his second try of the game.
The match ended with frayed tempers and both sides down to 14 men. Juan Smith was sin-binned for a high tackle and Felipe Contepomi soon followed for a punch on Bismarck du Plessis.
South Africa (24) 37
Argentina (6) 13
South Africa: P Montgomery; JP Pietersen, J Fourie, F Steyn, B Habana; B James, F du Preez; O du Randt, J Smit (capt), CJ van der Linde, B Botha, V Matfield, S Burger, J Smith, D Rossouw.
Replacements: B du Plessis, J du Plessis, J Muller, B Skinstad, R Pienaar, A Pretorius, W Olivier.
Argentina: I Corleto; L Borges, M Contepomi, F Contepomi, H Agulla; JM Hernandez, A Pichot (capt); R Roncero, M Ledesma, M Scelzo, I Fernandez Lobbe, P Albacete, L Ostiglia, JM Fernandez Lobbe, G Longo Elia.
Replacements: A Vernet Basualdo, O Hasan, R Alvarez Kairelis, JM Leguizamon, N Fernandez Miranda, F Todeschini, G Tiesi.
Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)