South Africa appear to have turned the corner in 2017 and they will be hoping to double up against Argentina in Salta to continue their momentum. The Springboks have quickly left a horrible 2016 behind with a 3-0 test series win over France and they were comfortably superior to their hosts on South African soil last week.
The Pumas managed to make more meters and the same number of clean breaks, but they could not cope with the pressure that the Springboks managed to put on them with 55% of the possession and 57% of the territory eventually proving too much for them. Defensive coach Brendan Venter will be pleased with the fact that they had a low total of points conceded with only one try for the Pumas, whilst winning the penalty count 6-12; Also of note is the fact that South Africa missed just 20 tackles in their Round 1 win against Argentina, fewer than any of the other Championship teams across the weekend.
Crucial for the Boks was the fact they generally had the better of the scrums and the breakdowns, something they will hope to repeat this weekend, although their backline was by no means stodgy and whilst it’s early days, the team looks to be rebuilding the old style of better Springbok sides with a fast, physical game in both forwards and backs.
Coenie Oosthuizen, Malcolm Marx and Tendai Mtawarira all made for a fearsome unit last time in a forward dominated game where Eden Etzebeth and Jaco Kriel (above) were amongst others to excel in what was a dominant pack performance.
Behind the scrum, Elton Jantjies (bottom) continued where he had left off with the Lions and gave a performance of real assurance with the boot kicking four conversions and three penalties and there where tries for Courtnall Skosan and Raymond Rhule.
Daniel Hourcade has made six changes with the selection of Juan Martin Hernandez (below) at fly-half suggesting a more aerial approach could be taken to matters this week to give the Pumas more of a foothold in the opposition half and he gets a new halfback partner in Tomas Cubelli whilst Lucas Noguera and Ramiro Herrera are bought into even up the scrum battle to boot.
The emphasis on force could also be the reason behind the return of Juan Manuel Leguizamón at 8 to try and be a wrecking ball but this would be playing South Africa at their own game and the visitors have only made one change with Francois Hougaard coming in at scrum-half in place of the injured Ross Cronje.
South Africa always had matters in corneal last week even if matters became scrappy and Argentina were shackled despite breaking the line nine times and scoring two tries. Argentina won 26-24 last year but they beat a completely different South Africa team in terms of mentality and form and this year’s unit looks as if it could be going places. They can pass a handicap of seven points and make it five wins on the bounce this year.
3 pts South Africa -7 (10/11 general)