Argentina v South Africa
Shift in style will see Springboks home
Sam Bruce
August 14, 2015
Preview: Argentina v South Africa

Hands up if you picked the Pumas last week? Now, now, be honest. Right, yes, no-one; just as I suspected. All jokes aside, it was certainly a history-making victory from the South Americans and one that couldn't have been better timed so close to the Rugby World Cup. Just as people were starting to again question their place in The Rugby Championship, they produce a blistering first-half performance and go on to beat the Springboks - the same team that should have defeated both the Wallabies and All Blacks.

Where does that leave the South Africans? It's a good question. They looked to be on the right track despite the final sighting of the scoreboards in Brisbane and Johannesburg; but last week's defeat means those familiar questions that seem to fade in and out of Springboks rugby have once again resurfaced. Has coach Heyneke Meyer been too sentimental? Should they revert to 10-man, high-ball, rugby? And then there's the scuttlebutt around the quota system.

Team News

  • Argentina: Pumas coach Daniel Hourcade has made sweeping changes to the side that shocked the Springboks in Durban last week. Most notably, the South Americans will line up with a new 10-12 partnership in Nicolas Sanchez and Juan Martin Hernandez while veteran Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe returns in the back-row.
  • South Africa: The Springboks have lost one skipper in Jean de Villiers but gained another with the return of lock Victor Matfield. The visitors have opted for a new front-row in Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss and Marcel van der Merwe while Patrick Lambie replaces Handre Pollard in the hot seat at No.10.

This week's return Test with the Pumas in Buenos Aires may in fact be the best thing for Meyer and the Springboks, as it gives them a chance to escape the intense scrutiny at home. The Pumas, meanwhile, will be keen to prove last week's impressive win was no fluke and that they do possess the skills to play an attacking brand of rugby. Much of that will again rely on the brilliant Juan Martin Hernandez - he was superb in Durban last week.

In form

The Pumas had scored just two tries - both from rolling mauls - in The Rugby Championship before last week's shock result; perhaps that was down to the fact that Juan Imhoff didn't feature against the All Blacks and then saw little ball against the Wallabies. That is all but a distant memory now, though, with Imhoff running in a memorable hat-trick against the Springboks; albeit with a controversial quick-tap ending. The 27-Test veteran came in looking for work last week; he'll need to be equally busy in Buenos Aires against a hurting Springboks side.

Jaco Kriel moves back to outside-centre from the wing this week © Getty Images

Damian de Allende is involved in one of the most divisive conversations currently taking place in the Republic but it seems as though he can consider himself a selection lock at inside centre. The Stormers star started all three Rugby Championship Tests at No.12, and proved a powerhouse ball-runner in midfield. His combination with young gun Jesse Kriel was a feature of the narrow losses to both Australia and New Zealand before skipper Jean de Villiers returned last week; the veteran back has suffered yet another injury though, allowing the de Allende-Kriel partnership to reform. Some astute judges in South Africa aren't all that upset.

Out of form

No player is under greater pressure to perform than Pumas fly-half Nicolas Sanchez, who appears to be extremely fortunate to find himself back in the starting side. Veteran Juan Martin Hernandez had a brilliant game at No.10 last week while Sanchez was just plain woeful in the opening encounters with the Wallabies and All Blacks. Hernandez has shifted a spot wider to No.12 this week, which may well bring out the best in Sanchez; the threat of a second playmaking option should create a little more space in the No.10 channel.

We let down South Africa - Meyer

Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer has called on his side to show greater physicality around the tackle contest and he'll be keen to see lock Eben Etzebeth take on that challenge after a couple of quiet outings. Etzebeth is regarded among the most confrontational players in the game, but he was largely MIA in Durban last week as the Pumas pack outmuscled their Springboks counterparts with ease. Etzebeth managed just a solitary run in attack, too; that must increase significantly in Buenos Aires.

Key battle

The Springboks' inclusion of Patrick Lambie ahead of Handre Pollard is likely to see them play a little more field position; so it could well be that this match becomes a cat-and-mouse contest for territory. South Africa had success in attack in the opening two Rugby Championship encounters but a whopping 19 turnovers last week suggest that approach may be put on ice as they seek to square the ledger with the Pumas. The halves combination that manages to guide their side around the field will likely lead their side to victory in this one.

Key stats

  • Argentina averaged fewer turnovers conceded (10.7) than any other team in the Rugby Championship, but the most penalties (14). South Africa shipped the fewest penalties, an average of 10.3, but the most turnovers (15.7 per game).
  • The Springboks have lost four straight Tests for the first time since 2010, and four in a row against different opponents for the first time since 1965.


Argentina are $2.70 and South Africa $1.46


Last week's shock loss has put the Springboks under extreme pressure at home; a fifth straight defeat will throw their World Cup campaign into chaos. There are too many quality players in this side for them to suffer such a fate while the return of veteran Victor Matfield can't be understated. The Pumas will be high on confidence following last week's win but a different Springboks game plan and the air of desperation will see the visitors home. Springboks by five.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.