S. Africa too strong for Rugby Champoinship debutants Argentina
8/18/2012 7:20:01 PM -
CAPE TOWN (AFP) - There was no fairy tale debut for Argentina in the Rugby Championship Saturday as they fell 27-6 to South Africa at Newlands.
An often scrappy game was won and lost in the first 20 minutes of the second half when the Pumas missed three penalty kicks after trailing 20-6 at half-time before right wing Bryan Habana snatched an opportunist try.
South Africa will be disappointed at failing to secure a bonus-point fourth try from late pressure in what will probably be the easiest of six fixtures in the former Tri-Nations.
Fly-half Morne Steyn was back to his place-kicking best for the Springboks after a poor mid-year series against England, landing three conversions and two conversions for a perfect record.
Argentina could have done with him as outside centre Marcelo Bosch failed from an early second-half penalty attempt and then fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez fluffed two closer-range kicks at goal.
The Pumas pack recovered from a poor start in which they conceded free kicks at the first two scrums for early engagements to hold their own in the set pieces and won some crucial turn-overs.
But the backs never looked like scoring a try and this will be an area of concern for coach Santiago Phelan ahead of the return match in Mendoza next Saturday.
Full-back Zane Kirchner and flank Marcell Coetzee crossed the tryline in the first half for South Africa with Steyn converting both and kicking two penalties.
Hernandez, back in the blue and white of the Pumas after a three-year injuries-induced absence, succeeded with both his first-half penalty attempts for the South Americans.